Chicago bars reopen — no food needed — after new rules begin Wednesday
“It feels like opening day,” said Melani Domingues, owner of The Green Lady tavern in Lake View. “I am very fortunate in that I was able to pivot pretty quickly.”
Chatting with a bartender about the virtues of home field advantage in the NFL, Christian Trezvant sat at the window of the The Green Lady tavern in Lake View with a shot and a beer in front of him.
“Sitting in this stool is like riding a bike,” said Trezvant, the first customer at the bar in months.
Wednesday was the first day The Green Lady and hundreds of other Chicago bars that don’t serve food could reopen to serve customers in an open-air setting.
Trezvant sat in one of 10 available seats by the front window. Owner Melani Domingues, meanwhile, sanitized everything between customers. Even the door was propped open — one less thing to touch.
“It feels like opening day,” Domingues said. “I am very fortunate in that I was able to pivot pretty quickly.”
The green light came down from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office Monday, finally applying the same rules that went into effect weeks ago for restaurants and food-serving bars to alcohol-only bars and microbreweries.
The mere two-day advance notice meant that some establishments weren’t able to get ready in time; many said they’re rapidly trying to prepare their outdoor patios for this weekend or next week.
But at Four Treys Tavern in North Center, owner Colleen Flood was receiving so many texts from regulars — ‘When are we going to be able to come back in?’ — that she made sure it happened.
“It was just a lot of work,” Flood said. “We had to sanitize everything naturally, even though there was nothing before that. We put brand-new windows in, so we could have people sit at the tables and have the windows open.”
The work nonetheless paid off: At 5 p.m. Wednesday, the doors at Four Treys opened. By 6 p.m., a dozen neighborhood patrons were inside sipping beer.
At K’s Dugout in Lincoln Square, an even larger crowd of regulars had settled down on picnic tables and under plastic tents set up in what is normally a small parking area behind the building.
“It’s a little frustrating they can only be outside, but at least they’re here, so that’s good,” owner Kathy Mathis said. “Hopefully in a couple weeks, things will start to move back inside.”
Mathis said she’s still waiting for some beer vendors to make deliveries, but other than that hiccup, things — at last — feel more normal.
“The last three months have been very long,” she chuckled. “It’s good to be back.”