Friday, March 9, 2012

"The Bar About Nothing"

Ah, the joys of opening a new business in Chicago.

It was almost exactly a year ago that we posted about Paul Collurafici's intention to open a tavern in an empty storefront that connects to his Tattoo Factory (former home of the Tattoo Factory Gallery, for those who remember).  He envisioned it as a place where people waiting for their friends to get inked could sit and relax, watch tv, and be able to talk to the person next to them without shouting over music.

That's when the red tape trail begins.  The City Hall Tour of zoning permits, liquor commission, Buildings Department, back to the liquor commission...  It really amazes us that anyone gets through this maze and actually succeeds in opening a place.

Chicago Eater says it may actually be happening.  We're hearing June -- hopefully of 2012.
UPTOWN—If all goes well with the city, Drink & Ink hopes to open adjacent to the Tattoo Factory on Broadway. According to owner Paul Collurafici, the "bar about nothing," will be about 900 square feet with a jukebox, exposed brick, a lot of wood and a late-night license. "I like the feeling of the old style of bars," he said. "Like a good corner tavern."
Considering that Tattoo Factory is a well-run established Uptown business, that it's a "cop shop," and that another new business means that Uptown gets a bigger tax base and fewer empty storefronts, we're all for this bar about nothing.  We hope the red tape gets cut in time for a summer opening, and we look forward to hoisting a non-pretentious brew (or three) at "Drink & Ink, a Tattoo Factory Outlet Store."


  1. An old style bar kinda has a double meaning since a lot of the old bars had an Old Style sign.

    Sounds like its going to be a cool place.

  2. Oh dear. We do not need more alcohol sales in Uptown. We need another bookstore, china shop, fine dining ect..

  3. I would love if this opened up and it was a tavern style bar. We have none of those really in uptown. Maybe bar buena, but that is a little to upscale for me. A place like Cody's in lakeview is a great example. Just a neighborhood spot that is low key. I know in the past decade the city has really been trying to close "taverns" because they believe they attract crime. There has been a reduction in the thousands in them accross the city and there was recently an article in the trib about this matter. Probably why all the red tape for this place. If done correctly I think it can be great addition to Uptown and our starved tax base.

  4. There are a lot of things we need in this ward, but on the immediate level, we need ballsy business owners to set up shop(s) and demonstrate that there is money to be made around here.

    Good luck, Paul.

  5. The good old days of stores like back in the 70`s and 80`s are gone thanks to all the super malls and giants like Target, Walmart. I guess the only profitable ones left to open in neighborhoods like Uptown are bars and places to eat.

  6. I would definitely stop by there to get a drink if this opens. Awesome Idea.

    I think there will eventually be a bookstore around there, but bookstores are a much more niche market, look at book cellar in lincoln square. Something like that would be awesome.

  7. I think people would have fun just watching people get tattoos.
    They should have a gallery above the tatto parlor like the surgeons do in medical school. so they could watch.

  8. I agree. Another place to sell booze in Uptown? Did not the owner also get $250,000 plus in TIF money from the Wilson Yard TIF to move across the street... what a racket...

  9. I think it has a good chance to be the coolest bar in the neighborhood.

  10. THe City does everything it can to discourage bars and entertainment.

    You have to pay somebody off if you don't know anyone.

    In order to have live music in a bar it's 5 to 15 thousand dollars a year.

    It's not really red tape, it's green.

  11. That Maxine and Carols Pub on Clark St. are problems. Maxines opens up at 7AM & they have winos waiting outside. Kids are going to school at the time. We don't need more taverns.

  12. AmericanLT, I agree that we don't need any more poorly run taverns.

    But how about a tavern that adjoins a business where cops hang out?

    How about a tavern that is owned by the President of the Business Partners, our chamber of commerce?

    How about a tavern that is run by someone who's had a business in Uptown since the Bicentennial?

    I know, I know, you're far to the right of Carrie Nation when it comes to alcohol.

    But even you might admit to the possibility that a bar created primarily for people waiting for tattoos, attached to an established business that has virtually no history of trouble, may be a little different from "Maxine" (you mean Max's?) or Carol's?

  13. Yes, Truman I meant Max's. Also, the Steak restaurant on Broadway&Wilson sells giant single serving pitchers of beer.Which is illegal.Sheridan Park Liquors caters malt liquor to the locals. That SteelCan911 is 10% alcohol! What next, do you want the Aldi's to sell booze also?

  14. I just love how everyone bashes small business. There all types of small business that are not problems and ones that are problems.

    A good run bar can be a good neighbor just like a good run hair salon, nail salon, fast food restaurant can be a good neighbor run right.

    Frankly, bars/restaurants are about the only small businesses you will get in a neighborhood since it's hard to compete in other businesses with the likes of Target, Walgreens, Walmart, Walgreens, CVS etc.

  15. A, so by your logic, the only thing that will work in Uptown is a bar? That is contrary to your own logic, where there are already waaay too many places in Uptown that serve alcohol. I believe that is entirely what this conversation is about... drink much/?

  16. Truman Square Neighbor said

    "But even you might admit to the possibility that a bar created primarily for people waiting for tattoos, attached to an established business that has virtually no history of trouble, may be a little different from "Maxine" (you mean Max's?) or Carol's?"

    I agree with this position.
    Does it sound like this would be a nuisance business? It doesnt to me. This isnt going to be Full Throttle Bar. We dont seem to have that kind of person here. What are the tattoo people like here? Tattoos are pretty mainstream, mostly the Tattoo people in the city seem to be the hotrod/goth people, right?.

  17. If you have a small business idea and want to speed up your building permit process, work for a Green Building Permit. The standards for small commercial (offices and retail) are pretty easily achievable, the DoB can help guide you through, and you can qualify for up to $25,000 as a partial permit fee waiver. The DoB Green Buildings Dept has thus far been able to keep up their promise to expedite permits in 30 days or less.

  18. I am hearing the spirit of Frances Willard in some of the comments above.

    If Uptown is going to be an entertainment district one day it is going to mean more, and quite a bit more "alcohol sales".

    Does that mean the Wooden Nickel is going to

    This bar is a good thing. Besides giving the entourage of the tattoo-lover a place to chill it is likely they will hang out a little longer in Uptown. Instead of just splitting right after the tattoo is done.

    And the concept of being a place to have a drink and not have to yell over the too loud music is spot on. That seems to be the norm these days...too loud music. Sometimes its cool, sometimes its a drag.

    There will still be room O plenty for china shops and bookstores.....fear not.

  19. Amazing that people are tearing this down. The only thing that gets universal praise around here are national fast food chains.

    Good luck to the owners navigating the gauntlet.

  20. Lots of inflexibility and "cookie cutter" approach in the comments here...someone doesn't like winos hanging out at 7 a.m., so a bar serving drinks at night to, perhaps, off-duty cops, shouldn't be allowed. I suppose that we don't want high-end wine bars, either...because those high-class people with disposable income will draw morning winos, too. Boring people with Victorian morals may like an occasional sugar cookie that is cut to look like dozens of others, but they don't keep bakeries open--the people who buy a dozen fresh chocolate-chip cookies (and brioches and ciabatta and cherry tarts) keep things going.

    Speaking of wine. "What next, do you want the Aldi's to sell booze also?" Aldi's DID request a permit, in order to sell mid-priced (not cheap) wine...but since the precinct voted dry the portion of Broadway and Wilson that Aldi sits in, and a liquor license couldn't be granted without opening up the entire stretch for more than a year, Aldi couldn't persuade the neighborhood associations to support a liquor license at this time. Maybe after the worst of the problems in the neighborhood are cleaned up though.

    If we want foot traffic on the sidewalks at night (from people who AREN'T drunk or panhandling), we aren't going to get it from people plying a china shop and tea room by themselves. We need the performance venues...and restaurants...and bars and pubs. They are inevitable--but they CAN be well-run and responsible, and they CAN draw the "right" clientele (which we want to see in Uptown). If alcohol of any sort served to anyone is offensive, then perhaps those who are offended should look to moving to one of the "dry" counties so prevalent in the South.

  21. I think Uptown could really benefit from a classy bar. If we had something like Fountainhead open up in the space for sale where the steakhouse is I'd be very happy. A place with a lot of windows that is open late brings many more eyes to the street. Those with very few dollars seem to buy packaged beer and not sit in Uptown bars. I also would like to see a classy wine/beer store in this area rather than having to drive to West Lakeview Liquors, Lush, or Binny's.

  22. Good luck to them...more retail! Less Free Services!

    ...speaking of places opening in Uptown...does anyone have the 411 on the space a few doors west of the Purple Cow? Peaked thru the windows a few weeks ago and it looks like a beautiful space....def a restaurant from what I can tell....


  23. Jimo,

    No update, but that space is slated to be a restaurant/bar named Reservoir. There are several UU threads about it, here is another link:

  24. I just spoke to Jesus and Carrie Nation and they told me to hijack this thread for the common good.

    Join the IrishPirate on the day after St. Paddy's Day at St Mary of the Lake for the annual post binge bloodletting. LifeSource blood services will thank you as will the folks who need blood products.

    Lifesource digs my O negative blood and my postive Uptown attitude. Or not.

    As to this bar I wish tattoo boy and the best in this venture. Vive la Biznesses!

  25. Are people really bashing more business in Uptown? I would think any legitimate business is good business for now. Are you worried that one day Uptown will be all liqour stores, chains, and franchises? Free Market economics basically guarantees that won't happen. And if you're a follower of UU and it's commentors, there's plenty of people who clearly will only frequent the independent establishments. Next thing you know, you communists will want to require all establishments to be smoke free! Wait, you already got that. I think you get my point. Live and let live and stop trying to impose your ideals on everyone else.

    All I request is that this place maybe serve some mean ass BBQ!!!

  26. It keeps being mentioned that Uptown has too many places that sell alcohol. I'm new to the area and find it the exact opposite. The Spot, Driftwood, and BOB are the only close bars to me, close being a relative term. As for liquor stores, it seems like there is an ordinary amount of those in the area. Maybe I'm naive but is there really a lot of alcohol available in the area? I've also lived in Edgewater & Andersonville and this area seems pretty dry to me.

  27. @Scott...totally agree. I think the number of empty king cobra/steel reserve cans all over gives the impression the area is loaded with liquor stores/bars but you're spot on. Bars, especially more upscale are few and far between...which makes sense for a community where so few have disposable income and those that do so often leave the neighborhood.