The crew behind hippie hangout A Live One and hipster dive Estelle's say they wanted to tell it like it is. "It's hard to name a new bar. Every name we came up with had already been thought of," says one owner, known to the masses as Shoe. "We thought, 'Why can't it just be easy?' Well…it can."
Name notwithstanding, the team put in a ton of work. In three weeks, they overhauled the tacky green interior of former occupant Mad Jack's, stripping out smoke-soaked carpets and restoring the bottle-capped bar to its original natural wood finish. Relics from the former tavern that were permitted to stay include the beautifully sculpted tin ceiling and a row of leaf-shaped fans that wave in unison over the high tables and chairs lining one wall. Add in brick-red paint, framed art, an elegant dance floor ringed with low-slung couches in back and dramatic lighting everywhere you look, and the place glows in a way that is absolutely seductive. A couple of medium-sized TVs mounted behind the bar pipe in sports, but they don't intrude.
Most nights, the music comes straight from the jukebox, which has been whittled down to about 100 exceptional albums, with rarely a repeat artist. Pop in your fifty cents and you can't go wrong, choosing from classic Hendrix and Dylan or more eclectic picks like the Commodores, AC/DC, Tom Waits and The Walkmen. Saturdays are generally the only nights the turntables behind the bar see any action; that's when one of the owning partners spins rock, old soul and funk.
Drinks are strong and cheap-to-moderately priced: Jameson drinks always cost $4; get $2 High Life on Sundays; $2 PBR and Old Style on Mondays; $2 for any of the 13 draft beers on Tuesdays; and $4 Stoli drinks and $3 Goose Islands on Wednesdays. Normally, cocktails start at $4 and beers are $3-$5.50. The space has a fully equipped kitchen, and Shoe says they're planning on food in the future. Once that happens, we'll never leave.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: Julia Steinberger