WEST LOOP — In a push to help local bands, artisans and breweries whose earnings have been severely restricted because of the pandemic shutdowns, Cobra Lounge just launched “Chicago Craft,” a pop-up shop inside the bar to sells drinks, merchandise and crafts.
The pop-up began Thursday and will be open 1-9 p.m. every Thursday, Friday and Saturday inside Cobra Lounge, 235 N. Ashland Ave. in the West Loop.
Cobra Lounge partnered with Jeppson’s, the maker of Malört, for the shop, which will feature local bands and artists, as well as barrel aged Malört, craft cocktails to-go from notable local guest bartenders, local bands and vintage Riot Fest merchandise, raffles and giveaways.
And while Cobra Lounge is also home to All Rise Brewery, they are welcoming in nine other local breweries so customers can build their own 6-packs and help those breweries also. Among the breweries selling craft beer are Great Central Brewing, Finch Beer Company, On Tour Brewing and Half Acre Beer Company. In addition, a different local tattoo artist will be featured weekly, starting with Jason Hoodrich of Family Tattoo.
The pop-up was the idea of Cobra Lounge manager Louie Mendicino. It will run every weekend going forward, provided people show up, he said.
Patrons must wear masks and capacity is capped at 55 people inside at one time.
For Avondale artist Toni, who goes by the name Snowman and was selling hand-painted vinyl albums and vinyl stickers she designed as well as sketches of musicians on cardboard, the event was essential. She’s down to 12 hours a week at her day job inside the Ogilvie Transportation Center.
“This and the Social Distance craft fairs have been keeping the lights on for me and kept my mind off these challenging times,” Toni said.
For Caitlin McDonald, who was selling knitted scarves and horror movie themed soaps, the pop-up at Cobra is just one of many craft fairs she’s participated in since July to help get through the pandemic. McDonald is the organizer of the Socially Distant Art Market which has taken place at various bars throughout the city over the last three months.
“These markets help the vendors and it helps the bars because it gets people in the door,” McDonald said.
Mendicino said while he hopes McDonald is right, he can’t wait for the pandemic to be over so everyone can get back to making money without fear of getting sick.
“We don’t want to be doing this. We’re just trying to maintain a heartbeat for our community,” he said.
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