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Jefferson Park, Portage Park, Norwood Park

Portage Park’s Foundation Tavern & Grill Permanently Closes As Building Gets New Owners

Neighbors and performers said they will miss the bar, and they hope the new owners will keep it running as one of the area's few live performance venues.

Foundation Tavern & Grille, 5007 W. Irving Park Road, as seen Feb. 20, 2023.
Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Block Club Chicago
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PORTAGE PARK — A popular Portage Park tavern and music spot shut down permanently over the weekend with little notice for customers and performers.

The owners of Foundation Tavern & Grille, 5007 W. Irving Park Road, announced the bar’s immediate closure on its Facebook page Sunday. The building was sold to new owners late last week, real estate agent Mike Costanzo said Monday.

The business was closed for four days before the announcement, according to social media posts.

“The time has come for Foundation Tavern to close its doors,” owners Robert and Marcus Sulejmani wrote on Facebook. “We appreciate all of the love and support over the past several years … Thank you to all of our friends and neighbors.”

The two-story building, which had been on the market since the beginning of the month, sold for about $1.7 million. It includes two apartments on the second floor, five parking spots and a basement, according to the listing.

Information on the new owners was not yet available. The sale has not yet been logged with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds because of the Presidents Day holiday, Costanzo said.

The Sulejmani brothers, who did not return messages for comment, also own the building that houses Moonflower bar, 4359 N. Milwaukee Ave., and The Reservoir, 844 W. Montrose Ave. In 2019, they took over McNamara’s, 4328 W. Irving Park Road, and plans were in the works to open a smaller bar with food by a longtime Sabatino’s chef. The spot is now Breakfast House & Coffee Bar and is still owned by the family, property records show.

In 2019, the owners redeveloped Foundation Tavern & Grille, which had been known as Nite Cap for 20 years. Before that, it was known as Frank’s Place, which opened in 1984, according to its website and license records.

The bar was known for its live music, food and friendly staff. Fans shared memories on social media.

The news “was sprung on me over the weekend,” said Steve Thomas, an Old Irving Park jazz musician who performed every Wednesday night at Foundation for the past three years. “It was a highlight of my week. Portage Park is underserved for music venues, in my opinion.”

A manager called Thomas Sunday morning with the news. He now has a “void” in his performing schedule, he said.

“There is a market and a need for it, even though there were days when there were not enough showings [and] not as busy as we’d like,” he said of Foundation’s music offerings.

The owners pumped a lot of money into the venue’s stage, lights and professional sound system, making it a draw for musicians like Thomas, he said. Unlike other venues, he had free rein to play his own music, he said.

“A lot of club owners can be fussy, but I had a free hand” at Foundation, Thomas said.

While Thomas is sad about the abrupt closure, he hopes to play there again under new ownership, he said.

Portage Park resident Anthony Hall said he’s disappointed about the closing. He hopes the new owners will continue to host live music and introduce stand-up comedy nights, he said.

“There’s not many places to see live music in the neighborhood, so we’re not only losing a great place to eat, we’re losing one of our only music venues,” Hall said.

The new owners will take over the title for the business as well as its liquor, dance and music licenses, according to the listing.

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