LINCOLN PARK — The Bad Apple, a popular burger bar in North Center, is opening a second location in Lincoln Park at the old John Barleycorn building, which has been empty for nearly a decade.
The new Bad Apple is expected to open in October in the 6,800-square-foot building at 658 W. Belden Ave., owner Kevin O’Hare said. The building, which housed the original John Barleycorn Bar, has been vacant since 2014 due to a nearly decade-long legal battle that recently ended.
“I think it’s a great spot for us,” O’Hare said. “It used to be a super hot spot in town, and it will be again.”
The sprawling restaurant will have two floors that include a dining room and private event space, collectively seating about 350 people, O’Hare said. The patio will seat another 125.
This will help meet the Bad Apple’s demand, O’Hare said. The original location is already on a wait every weekend, so the new restaurant will allow him to serve more people.
“It’s a nice problem to have,” O’Hare said. “And now fans of the existing Bad Apple won’t have to drive the extra 4 miles to get to the old space.”
The new Bad Apple will roll out a weekend brunch menu that’s not available at the original restaurant, O’Hare said.
“Brunch will be huge, especially with that big patio,” O’Hare said. “It’s going to have a Bad Apple twist where everything is bigger, better and made from scratch.”
The new restaurant will have about 50 beers on tap — double the amount of the first location — and about another 85 beers available in bottles or cans, O’Hare said.
The Bad Apple is also launching new drinks this summer that will round out its full cocktail menu, O’Hare said. The restaurant also plans to expand its whiskey selection to offer pairings with cheese samplers.
Lincoln Park makes for a natural location for the business to expand into, O’Hare said.
“It’s just like where we are in North Center, where it’s the same great people,” O’Hare said. “We’ll get families in the afternoon and then people who want to drink at nighttime. The neighborhood lends itself really well to who we are.”
O’Hare can also relate to the building’s history, he said.
The building was a speakeasy during Prohibition and frequented by gangster John Dillinger, who was shot and killed by federal agents just up the street by the Biograph Theater, O’Hare said.
O’Hare’s great-grandparents, William and Emily Zehnder, were German immigrants who ran their own speakeasy in Frankenmuth, Michigan, he said.
The Zehnders received the highest fine ever levied and paid in the history of Prohibition, having to pay $5,000 after a federal agent ordered a hot tea while visiting and was served whiskey, O’Hare said.
The new Bad Apple will pay homage to the Zehnder history, John Dillinger and the building’s previous life as a speakeasy, but the details are under wraps, O’Hare said.
“We’re going to tie it all together in a very cool way,” O’Hare said.
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