WICKER PARK — When Austin DeLonge was growing up in rural Vermont, one of his favorite childhood activities was playing rounds of mini golf with his family.
Now DeLonge and his business partner, Nick Jenkins, are bringing that nostalgia to Wicker Park with The Big Mini, a bar and nine-hole miniature golf course at 1302 N. Milwaukee Ave.
“Everyone loved playing mini golf growing up as kids,” DeLonge said. “This is a way to connect with an old past time on a night out with your friends.”
Mini golf, or “putt putt,” is a game based on tapping golf balls down fuzzy green carpets with putters, aiming for holes often obstructed by spinning windmills and other whimsical obstacles.
DeLonge and Jenkins have signed a lease to occupy the 5,000 square-foot space, formerly home to The Silver Room Pop-Up.
The owners are still in the process of acquiring permits from the city and an opening date has yet to be announced.
DeLonge and Jenkins both played mini golf as children on the East Coast; DeLonge in rural Vermont and Jenkins near Boston.
The duo met while in college at the University of Vermont. About seven years ago, Jenkins moved to Chicago to pursue a job in business. DeLonge, whose career was also in finance, followed five years later.
The friends quit their day jobs to pursue The Big Mini, which Jenkins described as a “labor of love.”
Pieces of the nine-hole course are currently being designed and constructed inside Jenkins’ garage.
The co-owners plan to serve as the business’ primary bartenders.
“I’ve wanted to design and build a mini golf course for 25 years,” DeLonge said. “It seems like a business that, if done right, it’s never going to go out of style.”
The Big Mini will replace The Silver Room Pop-Up, which opened in December 2018 and closed in September.
Jimmy Seidenberg owns the vintage building, which was once home to The Ark Thrift Shop for 26 years.
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