LAKEVIEW — Don't expect free entry into the bar known as "The Big S--tty" late at night anymore.
The after-hours bar and restaurant Big City Tap, 1010 W. Belmont Ave., colloquially known as "The Big S--tty," changed its door policy last weekend so bargoers arriving after 1 a.m. on Fridays and after 2 a.m. on Saturdays must pay to get in.
Men will be charged $20 and women must pay $10.
It's not technically a cover charge, said Big City employee Blaine Young II, who spoke on behalf of the bar at the owner's request. Once bargoers pay the fee, they receive a coupon to use in the bar for food and drink — good until midnight the next day.
The 12-year-old bar, which has never charged at the door before, was seeing too many people come in and not buy drinks or food, Young said. People who actually wanted to drink couldn't get to the bar because others would stand in the way, he said.
The new policy aims to minimize crowding for paying customers, he said.
"If you're not going to patronize, we want to make sure that there's plenty of room for people that are," Young said.
Plus, the extra late night license costs Big City a lot of cash. In addition to the $4,400 tavern license fee, Big City must pay $6,000 for a late-hour license which has to be renewed every two years, according to the city's website.
The bar closes at 4 a.m. on Fridays and 5 a.m. on Saturdays. Making sure that people buy food and drink is also intended to help offset the license cost, Young said.
"Like any other bar and restaurant, we are a business," he said. "You can't sit at another restaurant and sit at a table for two hours and not spend any money."
Big City is one of 11 late night bars in Lakeview. It gained the infamous rhyming nickname "The Big S--tty" after complaints that the bar smells like a "latrine" and attracts strange late-night characters.
For others, the nickname is also about the patrons, who tend to be particularly intoxicated by the time they make it to Big City.
But Young shrugged off the negative comments. He'll see people waiting in line, calling friends to come over to "The Big S--tty." Even if they criticize it, they're still willing to wait to get in and asking friends to join them, he said.
In fact, the bar is embracing the name. They're in the process of creating marketing materials and merchandise with "The Big S--tty" on them, he said.
And in spite of the bar's reputation and new door charge, people still came to party last weekend.
Only a small percentage of people — at most 10 to 12 percent — walked off after hearing about the charge, which can be taken by cash or credit, Young said.
"We know we are giving the best experience possible," Young said. "We're always trying to improve the atmosphere at Big City."