BEVERLY — Brewbakers, the only late-night bar in Beverly, is reopening after an almost two-year hiatus — just in time for Blackout Wednesday.
“It’s finally happening,” the bar’s staff wrote on Facebook. “After what feels like an eternity, Brewbakers will be open for business this Wednesday night from midnight to 4am.”
Brewbakers is the only bar in the 19th Ward with a license to keep serving alcohol until 4 a.m. Monday-Saturday and 5 a.m. Sundays. Known for rowdy crowds and late-night shenanigans, the bar has often ticked off neighbors and local officials.
It looked like the end of the road for Brewbakers when the building, 10350 S. Western Ave., was listed for sale in December 2019. The pandemic then forced owner Peter Bradarich to close the bar’s doors for more than 20 months.
Bradarich could not be reached for comment about a potential sale, but the property is still listed for $895,000.
Ald. Matt O’Shea previously called Brewbackers a “problem bar” and “a cancer” to his ward, but when asked if he welcomes the return of Brewbackers on Wednesday, he said, “Sure.”
“We haven’t had issues with Brewbakers in quite a while. I’m confident they’ll be cognizant of their neighbors,” O’Shea said. “I’m excited that we’re seeing businesses reopen. I want to make sure everybody has the ability to create jobs and get people back to work.”
O’Shea said Brewbakers did a nice job of “operating within the lines” when it was open before the pandemic, as the bar has not racked up many police calls or complaints in the past three years. O’Shea learned of the reopening earlier this week and has not fielded any grievances from neighbors.
In 2015, Brewbakers was denied a zoning variance to charge a cover fee after O’Shea and other community groups complained about drunken brawls, vandalism, drunken driving, over-served customers, littering, public urination and more.
Late-night loyalists said the critics have Brewbakers all wrong.
“I’m very glad to see they’ll be back in business. I would move mountains to be able to come back to Chicago just for the grand reopening,” said former weekend regular Demetrios Geanon, who moved to Dallas about a year ago. “No rules apply [at Brewbakers]. It’s kind of every man for themselves. Which is a good thing. … If you push the envelope, you might get the boot and get blacklisted.”
Geanon said he has a “love-hate” relationship with the bar. It’s a place where one-too-many can quickly escalate into sloppy dancing on stage, an escort off the property and a place on the bar’s infamous “ban list.”
Some of Geanon’s friends have strived to get banned simply so “they wouldn’t make the mistake of going back anyway.” Patrons said Brewbakers was always the last bar open for revelers who wanted to stay out a just a bit longer.
Taylor Alvarado, of Blue Island, said her partying days are now behind her, but she’s been to Brewbakers maybe 10 times, “always after 3 a.m.”
“It does draw a lot of lines late at night. About a 10-minute wait to get in there after 3 a.m.,” Alvarado said. “Between that and people parking, getting dropped off on the side of the street, I can definitely see there would be some sort of commotion going on. Can I see people having a problem with it? Yeah.”
Geanon remembers fondly the time his cousin, Kara Love, pulled a hamstring trying to do the splits on the bar’s stage.
“So we put her in a cab and sent her home,” Geanon said. “Her desire to do the splits that night kind of embodies the spirit of Brewbakers. Everyone thinks they can do something that’s a little bit beyond their grasp. That bar inspires you to do your best and reach for the stars.”
Love was raised in Beverly and said spending her 20s at Brewbakers was a rite of passage. A night-out on Western Avenue always ended with, “You going to the Bake?”
“I’m kind of dying that I’m talking about this,” Love said. “We all went there. As much as we hate waking up with a stamp that you went to the Bake last night, everybody knows we secretly had a fun time.”
After a long road back, O’Shea trusts Brewbakers’ fans will behave themselves.
“Having the late-night license, they’ve got to be extra diligent,” O’Shea said. “And if they’re not, the Chicago Police Department will be there to reinforce the rules.”
Love can only wonder if Wednesday’s reopening will mean a “clean slate for all” from Brewbakers’ infamous ban list.
“Maybe Christmas will come early for everyone,” Love said. “Maybe they can get back in.”
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: