BOYSTOWN — The new owner of the property that housed the abruptly closed Spin nightclub is ready to unveil a whiskey bar and dance club just in time for Pride.
Spin, a longtime staple of Chicago's gay scene, closed Memorial Day with little fanfare. Owner David Gassman posted a note on Facebook that read: "SPIN is officially closed," and ChicagoPride.com reported that employees were notified of the sudden closure the same day.
On Thursday, two new businesses will open in the 9,000-square-foot space: Whiskey Trust, a throwback bar that sells its own whiskey and vodka, and Chloe's, an '80s-inspired dance club.
Owner Jason Zilberbrand said he knew he'd have big shoes to fill when he took over Spin, 800 W. Belmont Ave.
"This is an icon," he said. "Spin was so important to this community."
The entrepreneur said he worked "hand in hand" with Gassman and hired several former Spin employees. He said he thinks the neighborhood will like what he's cooked up: a fun, laid-back venue reminiscent of his youth in the area.
"When I was younger, Spin was a place called Victoria House that we all played pool at," said Zilberbrand, 40. "Then Boystown came in, and my first job was with Windy City Fruit and Nuts. ... I've always been connected to the neighborhood."
Half of Zilberbrand's concept is Whiskey Trust, a bar that features its own small-batch vodka and whiskey (millet, rye blend).
Since the bar isn't zoned to serve as a distillery, Whiskey Trust crafts its spirits at Koval, 5121 N. Ravenswood Ave. Zilberbrand credits the organic distillery with helping fine-tune Whiskey Trust's recipe.
"We're gypsy distillers — a distillery without a home," Zilberbrand said, adding that he owns a 50,000-square-foot warehouse on the South Side that could serve as a distillery if Whiskey Trust does well enough to expand.
Whiskey Trust features a large, reclaimed oval bar that seats 40 people. To its side are leather couches and card games. Behind the bar, a bookshelf with a "secret lever" gives way to a private back room that can be used for events.
Whiskey Trust plans to sell its whiskey and vodka in 200 ml bottles. Later this year, guests can expect black-courant bourbon and horseradish-infused vodka ("We make the craziest bloody mary's ever," Zilberbrand said).
Food will include whiskey jerky, oysters with picklebacks, seafood and salads. Each dish will be infused with Whiskey Trust products (e.g. pickled beets get a peppery kick from Trust vodka).
Next to Whiskey Trust is Chloe's, a nightclub named after Zilberbrand's 6-year-old daughter. The venue will have live music, DJs and a custom light system.
"I was trying to recapture what a nightclub is — dancing and entertainment," Zilberbrand said. "What's happened over the last decade, it's become: How much money can you spend? How quickly can you spend it? And I think that's obnoxious."
The entrepreneur said he was inspired by his own youth in Chicago — going out and dancing at places like Shelter, China Club, Kaboom, Crobar and Exit. He said Chloe's will have a cover charge, but it won't be exorbitant.
"Chicago's just a place where people want to have fun," said general manager James Rhine. "It's going to be a fun nightclub centered around the lights, the sound system... a place for people to just come and party their a---- off."
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