LAKEVIEW — Guthries Tavern was Matt Baldino’s go-to bar when he was dating his now-wife, Kate.
The two worked together in the bar and restaurant industry, and they’d often swing by the beloved tavern at 1300 W. Addison St. after their shifts to decompress.
“We’d go to Guthries and get our spot in the back and just hang out,” Baldino said. “Between the board games and beer selection, it was one of our favorite, go-to places.”
Now, as the new owner of Guthries Tavern, Baldino — who owns the nearby Commonwealth Tavern at 2000 W. Roscoe St. in Roscoe Village — says he plans to “preserve and enhance” the establishment while saving the bar from closing for good, as was thought to be the case last summer when its previous owners closed Guthries due to the pandemic.
“I’m buying Guthries to keep it Guthries,” Baldino said. “So I’m preserving that place as people remembered it when it first closed its doors.”
When Baldino took over ownership, news that Guthries would reopen spread like wildfire on social media, but the bar’s new owners hadn’t been announced until the Chicago Tribune uncovered it was Baldino.
The bar is to reopen in June with a slew of improvements, Baldino said, including a new ventilation system, front windows that open and an outdoor seating area.
The bar’s bathrooms will also be completely gutted, but everything else in the tavern should remain the same, Baldino said.
“The floor is the same, the bar is the same, the back room is the same. It’s the same tables and chairs,” Baldino said. “All that stuff is still Guthries and will remain Guthries as long as I’m involved.”
The bar is keeping its focus on board games and looking to build on the motif by hosting gaming leagues and trivia nights, Baldino said.
Guthries will also expand its drink menu with a craft cocktail selection including martinis, Manhattans and old-fashioneds, Baldino said.
For food, guests will be able to order a frozen pizza, supplied by Candlelite, a pizzeria in Rogers Park.
Eventually, Baldino hopes to introduce a food truck concept so the tavern will be able to serve meals without having a full kitchen, Baldino said.
“We’re making a few enhancements to the bar that I think the previous owners would have done if they still owned it,” Baldino said. “Other than that, it’s the same Guthries you all remember.”
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
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