ROGERS PARK — The coronavirus pandemic closed a Rogers Park Irish pub, but neighboring business owners aren’t letting the bar space go to waste.
Poitin Stil, 1502 W. Jarvis Ave., closed when the COVID-19 crisis hit Chicago and never reopened. That left a vacant storefront in the resurgent Jarvis Square business corridor.
Restaurateurs Sandra Carter and Renee Labrana jumped at the chance to take over the space, where they launched Jarvis Square Tavern in mid-August.
Carter and Labrana hope the new watering hole will complement their neighboring businesses. Carter co-owns Taste Food and Wine at 1506 W. Jarvis Ave., and Labrana owns R Public House at 1508 W. Jarvis Ave.
Jarvis Square Tavern, a simple beer-and-shot joint with a patio, marks the couple’s first joint business venture.
“Originally, we had a laundry list of what we wanted to do here,” Labrana said. “But we couldn’t open [indoors], so we pared it back and started to think about what we really want and need.”
Inside, Jarvis Square Tavern is very much a work in progress. But the bar is well-stocked and the taps are loaded with local and national craft beer brands.
On the weekends — when Jarvis Square turns into an expanded outdoor dining area — Jarvis Square Tavern serves a specialty, rotating cocktail on its patio. Other than that, the bar serves beer and spirits.
Despite the ongoing work, the bar owners said they wanted to get the business open as soon as possible to cash in on the waning summer patio season and expanded outdoor dining.
“We’ll probably be shut down in the winter, so we thought, ‘Let’s open as soon as we can,'” Carter said.
Jarvis Square Tavern will not serve food, but patrons can order outside food to the bar. That will hopefully be a boon to their neighboring businesses, as R Public House has a full kitchen and Taste has provisions like cheeses, meats and desserts.
Jarvis Square Tavern will be open later than R Public House and Taste Food and Wine, and will hopefully attract customers looking for a nightcap, said Candice Johnson, general manager of the tavern.
“It’s where you go after dinner to have a nice cocktail,” she said.
Carter and Labrana decided to take over the bar so they can build a watering hole that speaks to their vision for Jarvis Square.
Earlier this year, new owners took over Charmers Cafe, 1500 W. Jarvis Ave., giving the space a lush and colorful makeover. With the new owners at Charmers and at the former Poitin Stil spot, all the business on that strip of Jarvis are owned by women, Carter and LaBrana said.
Labrana has made a career working in bars. Now, she wants to bring a down-to-earth neighborhood pub welcoming to all.
“Bars are my love,” she said. “Bars historically have been male-dominated places. We want a place where women are welcome and feel comfortable sitting at the bar.”
Jarvis Square Tavern’s patio is open 3-10 p.m. Monday-Sunday.
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