LINCOLN PARK — Chicago's famed Wild Hare reggae club finally has the OK to host live music at its new Lincoln Park location.
The Wild Hare had been locked in a legal battle with the city for more than a year while attempting to get a license to host reggae bands at the new location.
The once iconic Wrigleyville venue moved to Lincoln Park in early 2012 with the hopes of continuing the reggae tradition, but neighborhood opposition in late 2012 and early 2013 lead to a denial of a live music license.
The owners of the club on Friday were granted the license to once again host reggae musicians from all over the world.
"It's been a long ride," said William Glastris, a co-owner of the Wild Hare. "We have come to understand that we have a lot of friends and supporters all over the city of Chicago including quite a few in city hall."
The owners of the Wild Hare plan on announcing the first schedule of performances soon.
While there remains a lot of work to be done to make the venue concert-ready, the first artists will play before the end of summer, Glastris said.
The Wild Hare has been operating as a restaurant and bar at 2610 N. Halsted St. but had been losing money over the past two years at the new location, according to the owners.
"This was an unfortunate battle that never needed to happen," Glastris said. "We are very very pleased to see that the city of Chicago had the wisdom to ultimately support what really is an institution that has long stood for racial harmony and is a cultural institution."
The club was originally denied its license at a hearing brought by petitioners from the neighborhood.
In August, a Cook County judge ruled that the club, which had operated in Wrigleyville for 25 years, had been wrongly denied its license.
The City of Chicago quickly appealed that ruling and the case had been stuck in court until Friday's granting of the license.
The owners of the Wild Hare include two Ethiopian-born men who toured with Ziggy Marley, a Costa Rican voting member of the Recording Academy, and Glastris, a private equity investor.
Over the course of the legal battle, the owners claimed opposition to the Lincoln Park location was racially based, while Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) and some neighbors said traffic and parking concerns led to the opposition.
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