LAKEVIEW — Kyle Bagley, owner of Chicago’s Red Door Tavern Group, used to visit Cody’s Public House in Lakeview after playing baseball at nearby Hamlin Park.
Bagley appreciated the charm of Cody’s, 1658 W. Barry Ave., and enjoyed hanging out with friends and teammates over drinks on the bar’s patio, he said.
That’s why when Gene Frankowski, who opened Cody’s in 1986, closed the bar in 2019, Bagley set his sights on giving Cody’s new life. Red Door Tavern Group, which operates other bars like the Graystone Tavern and the Rambler Kitchen + Tap, bought the bar’s building this September and reopened Cody’s in December with updated amenities.
Bagley called the reopening a “revival” of a beloved neighborhood bar and said his goal was to stay true to the look and feel of Cody’s.
“We knew and loved Cody’s before we had the opportunity to make it our own, so we wanted to make sure we kept it as true to Gene’s original vision as we possibly could,” Bagley said.
Bagley and his team have restored many of the bar’s original elements, like the antique Schlitz chandeliers that hang throughout Cody’s, while introducing minor improvements.
The bar’s authentic tin ceiling has been repainted copper, and the original backbar sconces have been repurposed as pendant lights, Bagley said. Its pool table and jukebox have also been upgraded, while the two dart boards and artwork have been cleaned and polished.
The bar used to have glass block windows. Those were replaced with larger windows for better ventilation, Bagley said. Farm-style siding was added to the outside of the building, and a fresh coat of dark green paint was added inside.
The bar also now has eight 65-inch TVs, bringing the bar’s total up to 10 TVs, Bagley said.
“While working through our renovations and updates, we made it a priority to keep the vibe the same as the old Cody’s you know and love,” Bagley said. “We wanted to respectfully carry on the corner tap tradition, so we made sure to adhere as closely as possible to the original bar with thoughtful, complementary renovations while also updating the amenities for our staff and guests.”
The bar now has a dedicated game room featuring darts, Golden Tee and Big Buck Hunter. The room, which can hold about 30 people, is available for rentals and private parties, Bagley said.
Red Door Tavern Group is also keeping the bar’s outdoor beer garden, which can hold 100 people and will be upgraded with new lights, seating, tables and backyard games like bocce ball, Bagley said.
Bagley’s team also installed a state-of-the-art tap system featuring 16 beers on draft, as opposed to the 12 offered in Cody’s.
The drink menu features local craft beer and a rotating menu of seasonal brews, Bagley said. The bar’s wintertime options include Maplewood Son of Juice, Three Floyd’s Gumballhead and Zombie Dust, Revolution Anti-Hero and more.
The drink menu also features cocktails for $10-$12. Cocktails include the Black Manhattan with Piggyback Rye Whiskey, Amaro Montenegro, bitters, orange bitters and brandied cherry; an old fashioned with Pink Hook Bourbon, Angostura bitters and simple syrup with an orange twist; and an espresso martini.
Neighborhood reception to the revived Cody’s has been “beyond our expectations,” Bagley said.
“Most people who have spent any time in Chicago have a story about Cody’s, and everyone who’s come in says how much they remember this place, but that it feels so much better now,” Bagley said.
Cody’s Public House is open 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Sundays.
Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: