EAST UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — Happy Village is on the market — again.
The bar at 1057 N. Wolcott Ave. is listed on Redfin for $1.75 million. It’s not clear if the adjoining property at 1059 N. Wolcott Ave. is included.
Built in 1919, the two-flat building at 1057 houses the iconic dive bar on the ground floor and a three-bedroom apartment upstairs.
Chicago-based Out to Lunch Hospitality bought the building and the neighboring lot for $1.5 million in April of last year.
At the time, company partner Andrew Miller told Block Club an additional $1.5 million was budgeted for renovations that would bring the 1870s-era building “up to city code” and transform the bar into a restaurant.
Miller was not immediately available for comment Wednesday.
The 2019 sale took place following several months of back-and-forth between longtime owner Cherlyn Pilch, Out to Lunch and neighbors.
Before a sale could be initiated, Pilch needed Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) to lift a liquor moratorium that went into effect after her bar was founded. That move would allow her to transfer the liquor license to complete the sale.
But to do that, she needed the support of her neighbors — many of whom defiantly said during a heated August 2018 meeting they liked Happy Village the way it was.
“I am the one that kept that bar stable for 55 years this Nov. 15. I am asking for your support with these fine gentlemen and ladies, to achieve another step, a greater step, a more sophisticated step for Happy Village and the corner,” Pilch said.
“With all due respect, please give this new company and my lawyer the respect, and hear them out and please come with an open mind.”
Neighbors ended up voting to support Pilch.
Hopkins never lifted the moratorium, but Pilch and Miller were able to keep Happy Village open though last summer. The bar had the opportunity to apply for an incidental license, which would allow the sale of food and some liquor.
A 15-point plan of operation — a legally-binding document often used by neighbors to protect themselves from the actions of a new business — was cleared by the East Village Association.
Last year, Pilch finally sold her bar and two adjacent buildings at 1057-1059 N. Wolcott Ave. to Out To Lunch.
Miller told Block Club he planned to return the bar to its roots by converting the building back into a family-style restaurant. He tabled renovations until winter, wanting to give neighbors one last summer with the bar.
Known for its serene back patio and indoor rec room, Happy Village was founded by Pilch’s parents in 1964 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014.
That was nearly 100 years after the building was first constructed in the 1870s as a tied house — a saloon that only carried one specific brewery’s beer — for Chicago-based Peter Hand Brewery.
Nestled in within the heart of the quiet, tree-lined East Ukrainian Village neighborhood, the bar began as an all-purpose establishment: Polish sausage for lunch, dinner parties in the banquet hall, and 7 a.m. whiskey shots for factory workers coming off the graveyard shift.
Through the years, the neighborhood changed — and so did Happy Village. At one point, the Pilch family stopped serving restaurant-style food and introduced a walk-up hot dog stand. Eventually they stopped food service altogether.
For the past 15 years or so, Happy Village was a low-key, cash-only watering hole with cheap beer and plastic patio chairs, a quintessential “dive” bar. The banquet hall was converted into the ping-pong room.
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