'Chicago Fire' Returns to Bucktown to Film at Lottie's Pub

By Alisa Hauser on January 16, 2013 6:40am 

BUCKTOWN — For a neighborhood joint, Lottie’s Pub in Bucktown is getting lots of national attention lately.

Earlier this week, the NBC drama "Chicago Fire" visited Lottie’s to film — the second time in two months.

Unlike last month's pop in to Lottie's Pub at 1925 W. Cortland St., which brought a full cast and a simulated fire, Monday's filming was much tamer — “a small scene with just a few actors inside,” a production assistant said.

When the series filmed for two days in mid-December at Lottie's, the brush with TV fame boosted the bar's virtual fan base.

Drea Venegas, 25, a bartender and the administrator of Lottie's Facebook page, said that the attention from the filming resulted in "about 100 more Facebook likes" and many more people following the pub on Twitter.

Venegas posted photos from Monday's filming to Lottie's Facebook page, in an album called "Chicago Fire Part 2."

Episode 14, which features both the mid-December and Monday's filming at Lottie's, will air "sometime in February," according to Vanegas.

The filming is just the latest chapter in a long, rich history.

Opened as Zagorski’s by Lottie Zagorski in 1934, its basement reportedly played host to scheming mobsters and public officials alike.

“A simple knock on Lottie’s private basement door opens a word of escape and debauchery, lively parties, strip tease dancers, horse betting and all-night poker games to those deemed worthy,” according to a history of the pub posted on its web site.

Today, with its long, classic wooden bar and glass-front beer coolers, Lottie’s is considered a neighborhood landmark.

Gary Mednick, a publicist for NBC Universal, said that "Chicago Fire" plans to shoot 22 episodes in the city and that shooting will wrap up in April.

If the show gets picked up for a second season, which appears likely, shooting will start again in late summer, according to Rich Moskal, director of the Chicago Film Office, a Division of the Office of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Currently, "Chicago Fire" is the only episodic show being filmed in Chicago, according to Moskal.  "Episodic shows" are good for the city because each episode brings about $2 million in spending and 200 jobs, ranging from carpenters to electricians and parts for local actors, Moskal said.

While filming is a boon to the city, the experience can be a nuisance for local residents hoping to park their cars.

Last Thursday, bright green fliers distributed by show reps detailed parking restrictions for Monday’s filming. But, as of late Monday, there were still no official signs posted by the city.

White, city-issued "No Parking" signs must be posted a minimum of 24 hours before filming.

Mike Lacoco, traffic maintenance supervisor for the Bureau of Traffic Services, said that his office was not informed of the planned filming by the Chicago Film Office until Monday morning.

Moskal admitted to the mistake, explaining that "Chicago Fire" had filed all of the correct permit requests one week in advance but that his team "failed to get the request into Streets and Sanitation."

"We put up the signs ourselves Monday afternoon and were notifying people. Nobody got their cars towed or relocated," Moskal said.

Jeff Ytell, 46, a graphic designer who lives across from Lottie's, said the show's crew could do more to inform local residents of the filming.

"It would be nice if the location people did more community outreach besides putting up a green flier," he said. "It's not a big deal, but it is a bit of an inconvenience."

Though he has a garage to park his car, Ytell said that some of his neighbors were frustrated at losing street parking during last month's filming and others who were just trying to get to their homes or walk their dogs were harrassed by the set's security guards.

"On the positive side," he added, "it's just temporary."

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