BUCKTOWN — A corner tavern in Bucktown, far off the beaten path that dead-ends at the Kennedy Expy., is being recast as a "community amenity" by a group of regular patrons.
"It's a place of character and we want to honor that," said Teddy Harris, a Bucktown resident who lives a few blocks away from Mickey's Tavern at 2345 N. Leavitt St.
Harris, along with his wife, Sarah Brick, and three other Bucktown couples, are finalizing a purchase of the century-old tavern, which will become "The Leavitt Street Inn and Tavern" when it reopens next spring.
Described by a fan on Yelp.com as "The best side street neighborhood hidden tavern you will find in the city," the bar, which is known for its "unpretentious atmosphere" and jukebox, closed Monday.
Harris said the apartments above the tavern will be converted into an inn, offering either four or five rooms for people in the neighborhood to use for out-of-town guests, similar to Longman & Eagle in Logan Square, he said.
"It will be a community amenity, a neighborhood living room," Harris said.
The bar, which does not have a commercial kitchen yet, will eventually include a restaurant that "will be a bit more upscale than having regular bar food" but will still be casual, Harris said.
The bar's closure and impending sale were prompted by owners Mike and Jean Wojciechowski's decision to retire and move to Wisconsin.
Mike's father, Mickey Wojciechowski bought the bar about 30 years ago from Stanley Turkowski, who named the bar Stanley's.
A sign in the window of the tavern said the bar is closed for remodeling.
Most of those who frequent Mickey's Tavern — a smattering of 15 or 20 people on a typical night — knew the sale was coming, Harris said.
Last Saturday, about 200 people poured into the tavern for its final Saturday night, he said.
Dennis Rybarczyk, who grew up on the block but no longer lives in the area, reached out to DNAinfo Chicago to provide history about the bar.
Rybarczyk was among the revelers who came out on Saturday.
"It was pretty amazing, a lot of people we have not seen in years and quite a few of the Hot Shots were there," Rybarczyk said, referring to a softball team that Mickey's Tavern once sponsored.
The other three other couples who are partnering with Harris and Brick on the project all live within a short walking distance of the tavern and plan to keep the original bar intact to honor its history.
But other parts of the building, such as the furnace and flooring, need upgrading, Harris said.
Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said he has been talking with the group for a while about the project and supports zoning changes needed to install a kitchen and operate an inn upstairs.
"It's a fine-looking project that will fit well into Bucktown. It will improve upon the business and building that is there," Waguespack said.
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