UPTOWN — Tattoo Factory owner Paul Collurafici has never owned a bar and “doesn’t know how to make a drink,” but this spring, he'll get a crash course.
Collurafici has taken over an empty storefront at 4443 N. Broadway, next to his iconic Tattoo Factory, and is opening Drink & Ink, a bar that will serve tattoo customers and anyone else who wants to stop in.
A crew of contractors already was working on the estimated $150,000 buildout Thursday, and Collurafici hopes his plan will pay off.
“It’s either going to be a giant flop or a huge success,” said Collurafici, a past president of Uptown’s Chamber of Commerce.
The bar will seat about 30 people with plenty of standing room, and will definitely have a tattoo shop vibe.
“It’s just going to look like a tattoo artist decided to open a bar,” Collurafici said, adding that while Drink & Ink will be “open to everybody,”it's “mostly for my customers.”
The 900-square-foot bar will be decked out in Tattoo Factory memorabilia — along with a jukebox, photo booth and a small chapel with a statue depicting the Virgin Mary that will include an ATM in her belly, Collurafici said.
He plans to play music, but not at a volume that will force you to lean over and scream in a companion’s ear just to have a coherent conversation.
He said the bar also will have seven televisions, including a 70-incher behind the bar that will show a live feed of the tattoo studio, so people waiting for their friends to get inked can peek in on them.
Collurafici said the bar is being designed by him and all the other tattoo artists at the Tattoo Factory, and will be “a nice place for our customers to hang out and wait around,” before or after getting tattoos — or to wait for friends getting tattooed at the shop next door.
And if you're saving your cash for more ink, not to worry: There won’t be any “$9 drinks,” at Drink & Ink, Collurafici said.
“If you order a rum and coke, you’ll get a Bacardi and coke,” he said, adding that he'll have top-shelf booze at well prices.
There also will be a "small menu of the food you would normally buy at a gas station after a night of drinking," he said. "Hot pockets, microwave burritos, microwave pizzas and microwave White Castle."
He plans to eventually apply for a 4 a.m. license to keep the bar open late.
Local business leaders said they were happy to see another night life option in the neighborhood.
“We’re excited about seeing more entertainment-supportive businesses like that all along the Broadway corridor,” said Alyssa Berman-Cutler, president of economic development organization Uptown United.
Collurafici has been trying to make Drink & Ink happen for nearly three years, but getting approval for a liquor license was a struggle because a place of worship was located within 100 feet of where the bar was planned.
This winter, the city reversed its previous denial of a liquor license after determining that a storefront church nearby was not legally zoned to house a church.