PORTAGE PARK — Moonflower, a plant-themed bar that opened in Portage Park late last year, is expanding with a lower-level sister bar.
Nightshade, 4359 N. Milwaukee Ave., will complement its upstairs neighbor while featuring a different menu and hours, owners said. It was originally slated to open about a month after Moonflower debuted, but it was delayed several months while co-owners Zach Rivera, Marvin Boeving and Christina Chae found their footing with the new business.
“We wanted to open from the outset,” Rivera said. “I think at the beginning, we were a little bit naive to think that we could get them both going at the same time. We realized pretty soon after we started renovating Moonflower that it was going to take some additional time to get the downstairs open.”
Nightshade’s opening date and hours of operation will be posted on the bar’s website and Instagram pages soon. It will be open Fridays and Saturdays, Rivera said.
“The goal originally was to have these kind of dual concepts, and now that most of the work has been done, we want to start spreading the word about” Nightshade, Rivera said.
Nightshade will have a completely different menu than Moonflower, with about 12 cocktails planned exclusively for the lower-level bar. The atmosphere and music will also be different, as well, Rivera said.
“The ambiance will be different; it’ll be kind of moodier, sexier, feel more like a date-night spot versus Moonflower, which we looked at as more of a casual, cozy, approachable space for all occasions,” Rivera said.
“So, maybe you have a sandwich and a cocktail at Moonflower upstairs, and then after dinner, you go downstairs and have a nightcap at Nightshade. We’re really aiming to offer two totally different experiences that people in our neighborhood, and hopefully outside of the neighborhood, will come and check out.”
Since it opened in the former Hops and Barley location last year, Moonflower has seen a lot of support from Portage Park neighbors, Rivera said.
“It’s been great — a lot more than we expected,” Rivera said. “We’ve been open for about six months and it’s still, almost every day we get somebody from the neighborhood that says … they haven’t been yet and they come in and they say we’ve been waiting for something like this in the neighborhood.”
Rivera said he hopes people are just as receptive to Nightshade as they have been to Moonflower, providing another nighttime option for young locals without needing to venture to Logan Square, Wicker Park or Downtown.
“I think that us being a little bit closer to these neighborhoods that still want good food and drink, we hope that people will enjoy it and come back,” Rivera said.
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