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Woodhaven Bar Replaces Fedora Lounge, Aiming for 'Neighborhood' Vibe

 Woodhaven Bar's grand opening at 712 N. Clark St. is Wednesday.
Woodhaven Bar
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RIVER NORTH — In less than a decade, the bar at 712 N. Clark St. has transformed from Garrett Ripley's to the Shady Lady, settling for the last four years into the clubby Fedora Lounge, which frequently booked DJs and had a cocktail menu that incorporated pop rocks.

The team behind the River North bar and restaurant's latest iteration — two longtime staffers and restaurant consultant Stu Mitchell, who happened to live above the place for two years — "wanted to give it back to the neighborhood," Mitchell said.

Their new concept, Woodhaven Bar, opens Wednesday with a brand new look.

The walls were stripped to reveal exposed brick and paneled with dark wood. Poured concrete replaced the old bar surface and the liquor selection was scaled-back to focus on classic cocktails instead of flash, barkeep Jamie Tannenbaum said.

"We kept our top sellers, but want to focus on the classics," Tannenbaum said. "Manhattans, mojitos, and we're experimenting with some fruit infusions," including an apple cinnamon-infused Jameson in the fall and a peach puree and mint concoction mixed with Crown Royal for spring and summer.

The third prong of the management team is Jason Zinkann, also a longtime staff member from the Fedora Lounge days.

Chef Zach Prince scaled back the menu to pub classics with high-end ingredients. Build-your-own-burger options include Bison meat, sriracha ketchup and pepperoni aioli. For monthly featured burgers and mac and cheeses, the team instructed Prince to "get weird with it," Mitchell said.

The inaugural burger of the month is the Storehouse BBQ, a half pound of angus beef topped with smoked cheddar, tempura fried sweet onion, sweet peppered pickles and house-made barbecue sauce.

The first mac-and-cheese special is a salsa verde three cheese dish blended with green chile, jalapeno and tomato verde.

Mitchell, who heads Barkeep Collective, fell in love with the bar while living upstairs.

"Since day one, I loved it here. The owners are great, the people that come in — we're all friends here," said Mitchell, who Tannenbaum said became a fixture in the bar over the years from his frequent visits.

But Mitchell said it needed an overhaul to be more "comfortable, warm, cozy and inviting. A place you can take your friends and your parents ... our main goal is longevity."

The new look will better fit in with the restaurant's neighbors Troquet, IO Roofscape and 25 Degrees.

"We expect to get overflow from the Godfrey Hotel's rooftop," Mitchell said. "We wanted to prepare for that."

Interior highboy tables seat 32, with 11 stools at the bar. A seasonal patio offers another dozen seats.

Six flat screens aim to make the place a hotspot for sporting events.

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