LINCOLN SQUARE — Lincoln Square’s historic Chicago Brauhaus is coming back — inside the DANK Haus German American Cultural Center.
Brauhaus served huge steins of beer and authentic German food at 4732 N. Lincoln Ave. in the heart of Lincoln Square for 52 years before closing its doors in December 2017.
DANK Haus worked with former owners Harry and Guenther Kempf — who retained much of the interior, including fixtures, chandeliers and the red bar — to relocate the beloved bar to the second floor of the cultural center at 4740 N. Western Ave.
It opens September 17.
Michael Waechter, a DANK Haus board member and principal at Waechter Architects, worked alongside local contractors such as Ludwig Interiors and artist Karl Raack to recreate the look of the iconic bar in its new home.
When fundraising for the project began in March, Waechter did a quick sketch of how the bar could fit into DANK’s second floor. Now that construction is nearly complete, he says it’s amazing well it worked out.
“People who have been to the Brauhaus before are going to be awestruck by the uncanny nature of it. It’s the same bar, but it’s been flipped 180 degrees. It’s almost like going to a parallel universe,” Waechter said.
The Sept. 17 grand opening begins 6 p.m. and will also serve as a fundraiser for DANK Haus.
The $250 ticket includes live entertainment, a catered meal from the Himmel’s Restaurant along with beer, wine and soft drinks. The event will be limited to 40 people to facilitate safe social distancing.
Formal attire is preferred and masks are required. Advance purchase of a ticket is required and no walk-ins will be allowed. Musicians Wolfgang and Max from the original Chicago Brauhaus Trio are scheduled to perform.
The fundraiser will help DANK Haus cover some additional costs from having to close during the pandemic and from the construction project to move the bar, said Executive Director Monica Jirak.
“While we would love to have a big flamboyant event, obviously, we’re restricted right now due to the pandemic,” Jirak said.
The following day, DANK Haus will host its monthly Stammtisch open house event where the public can again enjoy a beer or two at the Brauhaus’ new home. Tickets for that start at $20 and the event will be restricted to 40 people.
Drinks and snacks will be available to buy, and the German band Paloma will perform, Jirak said.
The DANK Haus building was constructed in 1927 by architect Paul Gerhardt, architect of Cook County Hospital, Lane Tech and Von Steuben high schools and the L&H Company Building. It was a private club in the 1960s and the former board thought about selling the building in 2003, said Dagmar Freiberger, president of DANK’s board.
Around that time, Freiberger, her husband and other new board members stepped up to preserve the cultural center’s home and secure its future by opening its doors to the public.
Over the past 17 years, it’s become a hub for neighborhood events, weddings and even a polling place.
“Back then, we had no idea what we were getting into. But we have all these neighborhood groups who rely on us, and now with saving the Brauhaus and all the support we’ve gotten for that, it just makes me cry with happiness,” Freiberger said.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.