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Colm Treacy's Bar Empire Reduced to One With Pending Sale of Sidecar

By Benjamin Woodard | March 31, 2014 6:27am
 Colm Treacy's Sidecar bar is being sold to a new owner, sources said.
Colm Treacy's Sidecar bar is being sold to a new owner, sources said.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard (inset: Facebook)

ROGERS PARK —  Since emigrating from Ireland nearly 30 years ago, Colm Treacy has overseen a mini-empire of bars and restaurants, including T's and Sofo in Uptown and the Glenwood Bar, Sidecar and MorseL in Rogers Park.

But one by one over the last few years, his bars have closed or were sold, including Sidecar, which sources said is being bought by a new owner.

Once that sale goes through, Treacy's last neighborhood vestige will be the Glenwood.

Treacy declined to comment on the situation, telling a reporter inside the Glenwood last week, "You have nothing more to say about me."

Treacy has said in the past that he likes being a part of the community on the Far North Side.

 The Glenwood, 6962 N. Glenwood Ave., is the last neighborhood vestige of Colm Treacy's mini-empire of bars and restaurants in Rogers Park.
The Glenwood, 6962 N. Glenwood Ave., is the last neighborhood vestige of Colm Treacy's mini-empire of bars and restaurants in Rogers Park.
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DNAinfo/Benjamin Woodard

"People in Rogers Park are charming. I don't feel like I'm living in a big city," Treacy said in 2012. "I feel like I'm part of the neighborhood.”

But there have been signs of trouble for Treacy's businesses in the community going back to at least March of last year, when 12-year-old T's in Andersonville was shut down by the Cook County Sheriff's Office after the building's owner, Julie Mai, claimed Treacy hadn't paid rent for months.

A Cook County judge ordered Treacy to pay Mai more than $60,000, according to a court order filed against Treacy's Uptown property in May.

T's later closed for good.

Treacy had earlier sold the Sofo Bar in 2011, which has since been renamed the Sofo Tap.

In April 2013, dozens of former customers of the Glenwood Bar said they were boycotting the LGBT-friendly tavern after co-owner Renee Labrana — who had opened the pub with Treacy in 2008 — left the business after a dispute. She later opened her own restaurant and bar in Jarvis Square, leaving Treacy as the sole owner.

Shortly after she left, police said someone broke into the newly opened Sidecar and stole three bottles of Treacy's whiskey. Treacy told DNAinfo Chicago at the time that he might have known the perpetrator.

Then last fall, Treacy's MorseL, which opened a year before, quietly closed. Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said the bar had financial problems.

Also in October, a liquor law violation was issued in the 6900 block of North Glenwood Avenue, according to city records. Although the records do not cite a bar or liquor store by name, the only two establishments with liquor licenses on the block are Glenwood and Sidecar. No additional details on the violation were available.

Sources confirmed late last week that the sale of Sidecar was imminent.

Moore said he met with the prospective buyers of Sidecar about three months ago and sent a letter to the city's liquor commissioner in support of their takeover of Treacy's corporation, B 4 B Inc., which holds the bar's liquor license.

Moore said the prospective buyers of Sidecar had not filed with the city to transfer ownership of the bar's liquor license.

It was unclear exactly when the sale was expected to be completed, according to sources familiar with the deal.

Moore said he didn't know why Treacy was selling Sidecar.

"I understand Colm had financial difficulties at the MorseL, but I have no idea whether he had similar financial challenges at the Sidecar," Moore said. "As you know, a sale of a business is not necessarily indicative of a failure. There are a lot of reasons why someone would want to sell their business."

But Sidecar does have some legal issues to resolve, officials said. The corporation that controls Sidecar is not in "good standing" with the state, said Dave Druker, a spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Druker said the corporation — which Treacy bought from the late Neil Lifton, who owned Duke's Bar in the same space at 6920 N. Glenwood Ave. before his death in January 2012 — hadn't paid its annual "franchise tax" to renew the corporation.

He said the discrepancy could be resolved for less than $200.

The corporation also has outstanding tax issues and a hold has been placed on the corporation, said Susan Hofer, a spokeswoman with the state's Department of Revenue.

She said Treacy had appealed the "tax matter," and until it's resolved, the nature of the dispute was confidential.

Yet Treacy's financial problems don't end with his businesses, records show.

At the end of February, a notice of foreclosure was filed against Treacy's Uptown condo in the 4900 block of North Ashland Avenue, according to county records.

Meanwhile, other restaurateurs are filling the void Treacy has left behind.

The acclaimed Twisted Tapas has experienced success since opening in October near the lake on Pratt Boulevard.

Bullhead Cantina owner Paco Ruiz opened his second whiskey and taco bar in February in the space formerly occupied by MorseL.

Sandi Price, executive director of the Rogers Park Business Alliance, said the neighborhood's business economy has steadily grown in the last few years.

"I'm hoping it’s because they are doing their research and learning what a great community Rogers Park is," Price said of the new business owners. "We have a lot of spending power in the community. ... People here have a lot of money to spend."

She also attributed the success to the "great sense of community" found in Rogers Park, which Treacy fostered in his years as a business owner here.

"From the perspective of the Rogers Park Business Alliance, Colm has always been a great community partner," she said.

Ald. Moore agreed, saying Treacy's investments have been "good for the neighborhood."

"The fact that both MorseL and Sidecar were quickly purchased by other entities speaks well of the neighborhood," he said. "Regardless of Colm's financial challenges, both MorseL and Sidecar were neighborhood assets. I'm pleased both locations will continue to be occupied by businesses that will continue to serve the community."