Moonflower owners Christina Chae (left), Zach Rivera (middle) and Marvin Boeving (right) plan to offer original cocktails and comfort food at the bar. Credit: Provided

PORTAGE PARK — Joining the burgeoning corner of North Milwaukee and West Montrose avenues of Portage Park is a plant-themed bar, which opened last week.

Moonflower, 4359 N. Milwaukee Ave., opened Dec. 1 and replaces Hops and Barley, a sports bar that closed in October. Business partners Zach Rivera, Marvin Boeving and Christina Chae are behind the new space, which they hope will attract younger customers and offer something different from the sports bars on the Far Northwest Side, the owners said.

“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 previously told Block Club.

Moonflower serves cocktails, beers on draft and shareable comfort foods, like bolognese fries, country ham fritters, grilled cheeses, patty melts, potato leek soup and salads. The drink menu includes 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. “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. We’ll look to partner with a local school or charity, as well, anytime that we do fundraisers and things like this.”

Moonflower 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.

Hops and Barley, 4359 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Oct. 22, 2021. Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

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.” 

Moonflower joins other businesses that recently opened at or near the intersection. Triple R Gallery, 5031 W. Montrose Ave., opened last month to offer a space for local artists to get more exposure and fill an artist void. The Made Shop, 4440 N. Milwaukee Ave., opened in October and sells handmade work from more than 30 artists.

Mindful Baking, a Ravenswood vegan bakery, is opening its first retail location and cafe at 5035 W. Montrose Ave. this week.

Moonflower is open 4:30 p.m.-1 a.m. Wednesday-Sunday.

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