Is Revival in Works for Old-School Bridgeport Bar?
BRIDGEPORT — It looks like a tavern with deep-rooted history in the neighborhood is about to make a comeback.
Records show an application for a liquor license recently was filed for a business at 2701 S. Eleanor St., former home of the Gem Bar, near the Loomis Street bridge over the south branch of the Chicago River.
Signs on the door indicate the place will be called The Duck Inn.
Records identify Kevin Hickey as a managing partner in the business. It’s unclear if it’s the same Kevin Hickey who is a native South Sider and the acclaimed chef at Allium, the restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.
An attorney for the business did not return calls seeking comment, and a man who answered the door at a residential business address declined to comment.
According to the local history book “Images of America: Bridgeport,” the tavern was owned by Polish immigrant Joseph Gembara, who opened the bar “to feed canal workers and sell them hooch out his back door.”
Gembara’s son, Eugene “Herman” Gembara, was a bridge tender who “went on to run the corner tavern for more than 50 years while taking part in two other mainstays of Bridgeport life: Democratic politics and the public payroll,” according to a Tribune story noting his death in September 2009.