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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

Wicker Park’s Debonair Social Club Closing Permanently After Shooting, Building Code Violations

After 17 years in the neighborhood, the nightclub's owners said "it is no longer financially feasible to continue operations."

Debonair Social Club, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Sept. 5, 2023
Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
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WICKER PARK — A nightclub in the heart of Wicker Park is closing for good, one month after a man was shot inside the business.

Around 1:10 a.m. Aug. 6, a 26-year-old man was shot inside Debonair Social Club, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave., according to police.

The man was in a “verbal altercation” with another man who took out a gun and “fired shots at the victim,” a police spokesperson said Tuesday. The man was shot in the left arm and taken to Stroger Hospital in good condition.

No one has been arrested and the shooting remains under investigation, police said.

Now, Debonair’s owners have announced they’re closing the business permanently in light of the shooting and several other factors.

“After 17 amazing years in Wicker Park, Debonair Social Club has made the difficult decision to close immediately,” according to a emailed statement issued Tuesday and signed “the owners of the Debonair Social Club.”

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Debonair has been ordered closed by both the Chicago Police Department and Department of Buildings

Debonair has been closed since at least Aug. 9, when police labeled the business a “public safety threat” and issued a summary closure notice, currently posted on the club’s front door.

On Aug. 25, the city’s Department of Buildings ordered the business “to remain vacant and unoccupied until further notice” due to a series of code violations, according to a second notice.

Another inspection on Aug. 28 found more than 30 building violations, according to a city database.

“Debonair Social Club has been cooperating with the Law Department and the Police Department. As part of this process, Debonair Social Club was the subject of a full task force inspection. This inspection noted substantial corrections and upgrades to the business before we could reopen,” owners wrote in their statement.

Those corrections and the shooting, plus a possible looming rent hike from Debonair’s landlord North American Real Estate, were the nail in the club’s coffin, owners said.

“The new ownership has informed Debonair Social Club that they will soon raise the rent substantially. All these factors combined have brought Debonair Social Club to this point where it is no longer financially feasible to continue operations,” the statement said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., in Wicker Park on Jan. 6, 2023.

Debonair is the latest bar on the 1500 block of North Milwaukee Avenue to be issued a summary closure order since the beginning of 2022.

Police can use a summary closure order to temporarily close a business after a shooting or if officers determine it presents a safety risk. Businesses can appeal the decision and enter into a “nuisance abatement plan” with the city, or face a closure of up to six months.

In February 2022, police temporarily shut down The Point, 1565 N. Milwaukee Ave., after two shootings happened outside the bar and music venue in a four-month period.

The Point owner Joe Jun Lin engaged in a back and forth with the city but ultimately did not agree to a nuisance abatement plan, instead alleging he was being scapegoated for Chicago’s violence problems.

Lin waited out the full summary closure notice, and after numerous delays — including an ongoing eviction suit filed by North American Real Estate — reopened this summer. The venue has since hosted a handful of concerts.

On Dec. 31, DSTRKT Bar & Grill, 1540 N. Milwaukee Ave., was also shut down by summary closure, just hours after three men who allegedly fought inside the business were shot in a nearby alley. 

Unlike The Point, DSTRKT reopened about a month after it was closed by police, owner Frank Maza told Block Club in June.

In their statement Tuesday, Debonair’s owners thanked customers for supporting the nightclub over the years.

“We are grateful for the support and patronage Wicker Park has shown us. Thank you all,” the statement reads. “We hope each of you has a fun story about one night at Debonair Social Club.”

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