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First Look: Wise Owl Drinkery with Cool 1940s Bar Opens Monday

NEAR WEST SIDE —After months of delays, a new bar on Racine Avenue just off the Eisenhower Expressway will open Monday.

Not far from the United Center, Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse, 324 S. Racine Ave., will officially open its doors Monday, co-owner Andy Gowin confirmed. The new bar plans to host grand opening parties the weekend of May 15.

With partner Manuel Hatzitheodorou, Gowin plans to serve up local craft brews, cocktails and fresh food in an inviting atmosphere. After securing a Public Place of Amusement license from the city, the pair said they have big plans for 100-person beer garden, too.

"We want to be a neighborhood spot, but we have raised the bar," Gowin said, adding that he expects to welcome Blackhawks and Bulls fans to tailgate before and after games.

The Racine spot has been empty since the short-lived Ethyl's Beer & Wine Dive closed more than three years ago and Stanley's Kitchen and Tap closed after about five years in business at the location before that, Gowin said.

Tutto Bene and Tutto Orsi, family-owned Italian eateries, occupied the 120-year-old building before the wave of bars took over the space.

After Gowin and Hatzitheodorou took over, the space, built in 1894, underwent nine months major renovations to get the bar up to code while keeping other original elements, including the 1940s Roosevelt bar, intact.

While rehabbing the bar, Gowin said his team found "some really weird old stuff," including a ton of newspaper clippings from the day Elvis died in 1977. But their search proved helpful, too — a cooler from 1919 has been reworked into a cabinet, displaying collectibles in the main dining era.

Chefs Mark Hill & Jonathan Siuta will serve a up a menu that includes goat cheese fondue ($5), panko-crusted wise chicken tenders ($9), steak carpaccio ($13), roasted corn elote ($6), a wide variety of sliders ($9-$15), 12-inch pizzas ($13-15), sandwiches ($11-15), and wings ($7).

Cocktails include The Wise Owl, featuring a ginger and black peppercorn-infused house vodka, St. Germain, lime and simple syrup; The Madhouse, a mix of Breckenridge Rye Whiskey, dry vermouth, cynar, grapefruit and simple syrup; and the Bugler, with duck fat-washed Bulleit Bourbon, apple cider, Grand Marnier and Angostura bitters.

Owners have plans to offer delivery soon, and welcome bar goers to park in the adjacent parking lot after 4 p.m.

Gowin originally planned to open the bar in September 2014.

Wise Owl Drinkery & Cookhouse will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

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