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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

Moonflower, A Plant-Themed Cocktail Bar, Opens In Portage Park This Month

The cocktail spot from Chicago bar and restaurant veterans will replace Hops and Barley. The owners aim to provide an alternative to sports bars in the area.

Moonflower owners Christina Chae (left), Zach Rivera (middle) and Marvin Boeving (right) plan to offer original cocktails and comfort food at the bar.
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PORTAGE PARK — Three friends and longtime bartenders are opening a plant-themed bar this month in Portage Park. 

Moonflower, 4359 N. Milwaukee Ave., replaces Hops and Barley, a sports bar that closed in October. Business partners Zach Rivera, Marvin Boeving and Christina Chae hope to open by the end of November.

The trio said Moonflower will be an affordable spot they hope will attract younger customers and offer something different from the many sports bars on the Northwest Side.

“We like the idea of bringing a concept to a neighborhood that doesn’t exist yet, and filling a void there and being able to build and grow with the neighborhood,” Rivera said.

Moonflower will serve cocktails, beers on draft and shareable comfort foods, like bolognese fries, country ham fritters, grilled cheeses, patty melts, a potato leek soup and salads. The drink menu will include classic cocktails, like Manhattans and Negronis, and original cocktails, like a coconut-and-rice-infused gin and lime.

Patrons can also expect cocktails that reflect the team’s cultural backgrounds, like a Korean pop and a German spin on an Old Fashioned.

“We’re trying to be unique, but also representative of our backgrounds,” Rivera said.

Moonflower will also feature lots of greens, earth tones and plants throughout the space. The team will work with a local artist to decorate the space, and they hope to work with local shops to get indoor plants.

“The goal for us is to partner with as many businesses and individuals and people in the community to keep things as close to our surroundings as possible,” Rivera said. “We’ll look to partner with a local school or charity, as well, anytime that we do fundraisers and things like this.”

Moonflower also is planning a basement speakeasy, to be called Nightshade, with different plants, dim lighting and its own music and drinks menu. That should open a month after Moonflower’s debut, Rivera said. 

It’s “kind of like a date spot versus the upstairs, which is just the place for friends and family to meet and hang out,” Rivera said.

Rivera and Marvin have worked at Hogsalt Hospitality, the group behind restaurants like Au Cheval and Bavette’s. Rivera also is a beverage director at 16 on Center restaurant group. Chae works at Celeste, a bar, restaurant and club in River North. 

The three worked together previously and remained friends. After recognizing their mutual values on hospitality and service, they discussed starting a business together.

Now, Rivera said he and his friends are looking forward to seeing how Portage Park responds to the bar.

“The three of us are really just regular folks — not from a ton of money,” Rivera said. “We just scraped over the years as much as we could put together, and we’re fortunate to be able to open this business just the three of us without any outside investors or anything like this.” 

Check Moonflower’s social media pages for opening dates and more information.

“Our three faces will be here pretty much every day. And so we’re really excited to be able to do it as like a home grown effort,” Rivera said.

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