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Restaurants coming to Lake View’s Southport Lanes

Chicago’s Boka Restaurant Group says it plans three operations in the space starting next summer.

Southport Lanes at 3325 N. Southport Ave in Lake View. Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.
Southport Lanes in Lake View, with its Schlitz sign denoting its history as a brewery-tied tavern.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

The former Southport Lanes in Lake View will become home to three dining concepts operated by Boka Restaurant Group.

Chicago-based Boka confirmed Tuesday that it will open the restaurants next summer in the building at 3325 N. Southport Avenue. Boka has leased the property from Steve Soble, who closed the more than century-old Southport Lanes in September 2020 because of the pandemic and chose not to reopen.

Boka, confirming a report by Eater Chicago, said one of the new restaurants will be GG’s Chicken Shop, a venture helmed by chef/partner Lee Wolen. A spokeswoman said Boka will release details of the other restaurants in the space early in 2022.

GG’s Chicken Shop started life as a “ghost kitchen,” a delivery-only service for the pandemic. It operated out of Boka’s namesake restaurant in Lincoln Park. The company since has shifted operations back to indoor dining. “We really want to be family forward where you can get a fried chicken sandwich for the kids, and a rotisserie chicken with four sides,” Wolen told Eater Chicago.

Southport Lanes was a bowling alley-restaurant-bar that in the early 1900s was a tavern tied to the Schlitz brewery. The longtime neighborhood hangout has at various times been a brothel, speakeasy and gambling den.

Soble sold its memorabilia and décor at auction last summer but the Schlitz insignia on the building remains.

He closed the business despite getting federal and state aid to help him through the pandemic. Records show he got a forgiven loan of $200,400 from the Payroll Protection Program, as well as a $70,000 state grant. PPP rules allowed the loans to be forgiven if the business used most proceeds on payroll and other eligible expenses.

Soble owns the Seven Ten Social bowling alley and eatery in Hyde Park.