WICKER PARK — A bar named for a medieval Irish pirate queen is dropping anchor in Wicker Park, and the woman steering the ship is someone many neighbors may recognize.
Last month, Gracie O’Malley’s opened at 1635 N. Milwaukee Ave. with Katie “KJ” Johnson at the helm. She helped open Whiskey Business, 1367 N. Milwaukee Ave. and Standard Bar and Grill, 1332 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Johnson, who is Gracie O’Malley’s general manager, celebrated the bar’s grand opening last weekend in the former Tankard location. This Wednesday, she’ll help dart players join the bar’s fall and winter Dart League.
Before Whiskey Business and Standard, Johnson spent many of her 16 years in the Chicago service industry working in Wrigleyville. About a year ago, she left Standard and the world of late weekend nights to work as a liquor sales rep.
The opportunity at Gracie O’Malley’s, however, brought Johnson back to the bar scene.
“Wicker Park is where I have my home base,” she said. “I love the area. … It’s a melting pot. The clientele is by far the best I’ve ever seen.”
Gracie O’Malley’s Wicker Park is a second location for the bar, which is also located at 6334 N. Clark St. in Edgewater.
While the bar is “definitely a sports bar,” Johnson said she aims to have the business become a staple in the community that can be enjoyed by all.
Later this month, on Oct. 24, the bar will have a pumpkin decorating contest. While decorations are BYOD, the bar will provide pumpkins, paint and paint brushes. And instead of sports games, the TVs will play the film “Hocus Pocus.”
The following night, on Oct. 25, the bar will plan an ’80s and ’90s-themed karaoke competition. Prizes will be given to those with the best costumes and the best performances.
Wednesday nights are reserved for dart leagues. This year’s 10-week fall and winter league starts Oct. 16.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, the bar will host a meet-and-greet for prospective players. Come in a team of three, or come by yourself to get placed with a team.
“For us it’s just about people having a good time,” she said. “That’s our job. We’re good at it.”
The bar also has a kitchen and serves Irish staples, such as fish and chips and shepherd’s pie, as well as nachos and burgers.
Last week, Lincoln Park resident Cole Merchant took an Uber to Gracie O’Malley’s to try the fish and chips. He wasn’t disappointed.
“It was so good. It was so crispy,” he said. “We’ll take the Uber back here anytime.”
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