What is in this article?:
- The Visionary: East Bank Club Founder Daniel Levin
- Law, Politics and Real Estate
- The Origins of the Club
- Still Hard at Work
- Sidebar: The Famous and a Future President Work Out at East Bank Club
- Sidebar: Longtime Employees Lead to Success of East Bank Club
- Sidebar: Club Industry Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients
East Bank Club founder and CEO Daniel Levin is the 2013 recipient of Club Industry's Lifetime Achievement Award. He will receive the award Oct. 24 at the Club Industry Conference and Exhibition in Chicago. Photo by Brian McConkey.
Sidebar: The Famous and a Future President Work Out at East Bank Club
You do not see photos of the famous members who have come and gone at East Bank Club. But their time spent at the club and their associations with the club and CEO Daniel Levin have become the stuff of legend.
Oprah Winfrey has worked out almost unrecognizably in the club’s vast cardio room. Levin’s wife, Fay Hartog-Levin, remembers a time when her husband gave Winfrey a vegetable juice drink after a workout.
“You’re my hunk of love,” Winfrey told Levin that day, according to his wife.
One famous former member perhaps represents the vision that Levin has for the club and for others. Levin first met President Barack Obama one day after Obama played basketball at the club. At that time, Obama’s career was moving forward, and a few years later in 1996, he was elected to the Illinois state senate. Still somewhat unknown in Chicago, Obama launched a campaign for the 2004 U.S. Senate.
Hartog-Levin had met Obama when she served as an executive at Chicago’s Field Museum. Her husband set up a meet-and-greet wine and cheese party for Obama at East Bank Club. Around 50 members attended.
After Obama won the Democratic nomination for the Senate that March, the Levins hosted Obama and wife Michelle at their house in Winnetka, IL, for a small dinner party. A chef served Chinese food that evening for the 10 or so guests.
The rest is well-known history. Obama won the Senate seat in the fall, announced his candidacy for president in 2007, was elected president in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012.
“He was someone you knew that was going to have more public prominence somehow,” Levin says. “We became very close to him and still are close to him.”
However, Levin gets only so close to the president these days.
“He’s still the president,” Levin says. “I don’t call every morning and say, ‘How are you doing?’”