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John Barleycorn Closing Original Lincoln Park Location

By Paul Biasco | April 18, 2014 5:15pm | Updated on April 22, 2014 9:26am
 The original John Barleycorn location in Lincoln Park is closing.
The original John Barleycorn location in Lincoln Park is closing.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

LINCOLN PARK — John Barleycorn, a neighborhood staple in Lincoln Park for more than 50 years, is closing its doors.

The original John Barleycorn at 658 W. Belden Ave. will close down next month, according to owner Sam Sanchez.

Sanchez sold the 9,000-square-foot bar as well as the 10 apartment units on the second and third floor for about $4 million to an undisclosed buyer.

Bars and other establishments along Lincoln Avenue have been struggling in the wake of the closure of Children's Memorial Hospital and its estimated 4,100 visitors a day.

Sanchez said the closing of the hospital slowed business at his bar, but that was not the only factor.

"The price was right," he said. "It was the right time. They came in with a good offer and I said 'OK, it's time to move on.'"

Sanchez said over the past 10 years the number of apartment units in the neighborhood has dipped, while the number of single family homes has increased.

"The neighborhood has changed," he said.

The corner location has always housed a saloon since it was built in 1890, according to Sanchez.

It was converted to John Barleycorn in 1963 by Eric Van Gelder and later purchased by Sanchez's uncle in 1984.

Sam Sanchez took over in 1985 and has since expanded his bar business to John Barleycorn locations in River North, Wrigleyville and Schaumburg as well as Moe's Cantina locations in Wrigleyville and River North.

Sanchez has plans to open a John Barleycorn in either the Loop or South Loop, which will be outfitted by the nautical memorabilia that lines the walls and furniture of the Lincoln Park location.

The bar empire is expanding out of state, and Sanchez is preparing to open a Moe's Cantina in Florida.

Sanchez plans on hosting a farewell party at the original John Barleycorn.

"The neighbors in Lincoln Park have been awesome for the past 25 years or more," he said. "It's been an awesome experience."