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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Former Johnny’s Grill Will Soon Be New Spot From Cocktail Pros Behind Estereo, Sportsman’s Club

The bar group is not talking (yet) about their plans for the Johnny's Grill space.

Jeff Donahue and Wade McElroy, who run the bar programs at bars like Estereo and Sportsman's Club, are converting the former Johnny's and Mezcaleria into a new establishment.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
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LOGAN SQUARE — The cocktail makers behind a host of popular neighborhood bars — Estereo, Sportsman’s Club and Ludlow Liquors, to name a few — are opening a new establishment in the former Johnny’s Grill location.

A spokeswoman for Jeff Donahue and Wade McElroy, who run the recently formed hospitality group Leisure Activities, confirmed the pair is opening a new establishment in the former home of Johnny’s and Mezacaleria Las Flores, 3149 W. Logan Bouelvard, but declined to share further details.

A recently-issued city permit tucked into the corner of the storefront lists Donahue as the owner of 2545 N. Kedzie LLC.

Under Leisure Activities, Donahue and McElroy run the bar programs at a host of popular bars including Estereo, Sportsman’s Club and Larry’s. Last summer, the pair bought Orbit Room in Avondale and fixed it up — their first project under the hospitality group. It’s now called Ludlow Liquors. 

The permit posted to the storefront. [Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago]

Both Donahue and McElroy are well-known in Chicago’s bar scene for their cocktail-making skills. They were named Eater Chicago’s bartenders of the year in 2014.

For weeks, construction crews have been hard at work transforming the former Johnny’s into the new establishment.

When it will open and what kind of niche it will fill remains to be seen. A spokeswoman for Leisure Activities said they’d “be in touch when [they] have more news to share.”

Johnny’s had a long history in the neighborhood. The diner closed in 2014 after more than 30 years of business. Then, in August of 2015, award-winning pastry chef Sarah Jordan reopened it and an adjoining mezcal bar in the former Fleur flower shop. Jordan ended up closing both establishments last October for unknown reasons.

The new spot is the latest addition to the Logan Bouelvard stretch. Merchant, a new restaurant/bar that replaced the former Dunlay’s, just opened.