Skip to contents
Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Wolfhound Bar And Kitchen Brings Smash Burgers, All-Day Irish Breakfast To Avondale After Long Pandemic Delay

Chicago firefighter Brendan Byrne, who built much of the restaurant himself, said some of the menu was inspired by his Irish heritage.

Brendan Byrne, owner of The Wolfhound Bar & Kitchen, opening Thursday at 3188 N. Elston Ave.
Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
  • Credibility:

AVONDALE — Chicago firefighter Brendan Byrne bought a building on Avondale’s Elston Avenue before the pandemic, aiming to open a bar and restaurant on the ground floor within a few months.

But like other budding restaurateurs, Byrne’s plans were suspended when the public health crisis gripped the city. What started out as a quick project turned into a years-long waiting game.

“I thought I’d do a couple months of rehab, hopefully be open for spring 2020, get it done in time for St. Patrick’s Day, is what I was thinking, very optimistically,” Byrne said.

More than two years later, Byrne is finally opening The Wolfhound Bar and Kitchen this week. The restaurant, serving food like smash burgers and chicken sandwiches, as well as Irish dishes inspired by Byrne’s heritage, is set to open Thursday at 3188 N. Elston Ave.

The finished product is “genuinely authentic,” a spot that “people took time and consideration into crafting. I emphasize time — we’ve had a lot, a lot of time,” Byrne said.

Credit: Mina Bloom/Block Club Chicago
A seating area at The Wolfhound Bar and Kitchen in Avondale.

With help from family, Byrne built The Wolfhound from the ground up; every detail from the light fixtures to the tables is either repurposed or hand-crafted. As the pandemic dragged on, Byrne dove into the renovation project, peeling back the layers of the 1890s building, which housed a bar for at least 70 years.

“It was a lot of figuring it out ourselves to keep the carrying costs down,” he said.

Byrne also spent much of the delay fine-tuning the menu. In addition to American food and Irish classics like an all-day Irish breakfast, The Wolfhound’s menu includes entrees like braised pork shoulder and offers a full craft cocktail menu. Some of the dishes are accompanied by baked goods from Byrne’s family’s bakery, Galway Bakers.

“Everything’s made in-house from scratch. Our ketchup we make from scratch,” he said.

Byrne said he was inspired by his Irish upbringing and his family’s business, which is run by his Irish immigrant parents. He said he named the eatery The Wolfhound because his family bred and owned Irish wolfhounds growing up.

The spot is also a reflection of Byrne’s day job in the Fire Department. Working as a firefighter for 14 years, Byrne said he’s been exposed to cuisine from around the world as firefighters take turns making each other meals on the job.

“It wasn’t like we were going to a certain restaurant. It was like, this is Terry from Georgia and this is what he learned from his mom growing up,” he said.

With the menu and renovations finalized, Byrne planned to open The Wolfhound a couple of months ago, but he was having trouble hiring staff, another widespread pandemic-era problem.

But Byrne said he’s since filled the jobs, and he’s thrilled to finally share The Wolfhound with the neighborhood.

“I’m really excited about the area we’re in, this part of Avondale. [People] have been saying for a decade [Avondale] is kind of an up-and-coming neighborhood, but buying stock on predictions of neighborhood is really a bit silly. I think it’s really about the people in it, and the community. The feeling that I have out here is electric,” Byrne said.

To start, The Wolfhound Bar and Kitchen will only be open for dinner service. Breakfast and lunch service will be rolled out in coming months.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation. 

Thanks for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: