LINCOLN PARK — Irish pub Paddy Long’s, which has been closed due to the pandemic, is reopening Friday under a new name and concept: Max & Issy’s Pizzeria.
The pizzeria will replace Paddy Long’s Beer and Bacon Pub, which has operated for the last 14 years at 1028 W. Diversey Parkway, and serve New York-style pizza along with beer, wine and cocktails.
The pivot from a bar to pizzeria was brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, said Pat Berger, who co-owns the business with Chris Latchford. Bars have been especially hit hard by the pandemic, facing a series of closures and indoor capacity limits that left Paddy Long’s having to rely on carryout and delivery orders to get by.
“While we did manage to fill a lot of to-go orders during the pandemic, the Paddy Long’s food menu was never designed to make money — it was designed to keep people in the bar, drinking,” Berger said. “So we decided if we were going to make money on food, we needed to change the concept and get the neighborhood more of what they want.”
Max and Issy’s Pizzeria — named after Berger’s and Latchford’s children — will use the bar’s limited kitchen space to offer several gourmet specialty pizzas, salads and appetizers, Berger said. The bar’s drink menu will be scaled down to focus more on food.
A special bacon-themed pizza, the “Paddy’s My Daddy,” will be offered to pay tribute to the business’ former life as Paddy Long’s, Berger said.
“There’s plenty of good pizza in this neighborhood, but it centers mostly on Chicago styles,” Berger said. “And we felt that pizza is something that goes well with delivery or takeout, which are the two sectors of this industry that are incredibly strong at the moment.”
To prepare for reopening, Berger and Latchford have made several improvements to the space, including redoing the bathrooms, revamping the kitchen and restoring the bar to how it was before the building was revamped in the late ’40s.
The business also replaced its large front window with a floor-to-ceiling glass garage door that opens the storefront up, Berger said.
“Everything is more COVID-friendly and we’ll be getting more airflow in here,” Berger said.
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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