BUCKTOWN — O's Tap, a renovated dive bar that traces its roots to the early 1980s, reopened over the weekend with $2 bottles of Miller Lite along the border of Bucktown and Logan Square on Western Ave.
Formerly Western Tap at 2044 N. Western Ave., the watering hole closed over the summer when its 87-year-old Polish barkeep — known only by her first name of Irene — broke her hip and went on a medical leave, according to longtime tavern regulars.
The new bar owner, Jimmy Ostrowski, who also owns the three-story building, reopened the bar with no fanfare save for social media efforts by Alex Sandoval, a part-time O's Tap bartender who announced her new gig on Instagram.
Describing O's Tap as "a sweet little dive spot with a pool table and a back area to smoke," Sandoval encouraged her Instagram followers to come and visit her for a beer.
Ostrowski, who has a day job as a chemical engineer, said he recruited Sandoval as she was waiting on him at Parson Chicken and Fish, where she continues to work while also running her custom online leather bag shop, Bird Trouble.
"She just had a friendly vibe and energy, I could tell she'd fit in," Ostrowski said of Sandoval. Opening night was mainly populated by the regulars of Western Tap.
Alisa Hauser says the crowd was a mix of regulars and new faces:
(l.) John Pedersen, Jimmy Ostrowski, Alex Sandoval, Tony Sandoval. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
While growing up in the Northwest side, Ostrowski, who is Polish, said he had a lot of friends who were Irish and had last names that started with O, so his friends often wrote his last name as "O'Strowski."
The O'Strowski joke led to a nickname of "Jimmy O," which inspired the bar's name.
"Plus, Oprah, O’Reilly, Obama, the O is powerful right now," Ostrowski said.
The vintage bar, with original tin ceilings and a new coat of soothing maroon paint on the wall, underwent an extensive remodeling, including new flooring and a new bathroom.
"We retired a lot of the old rusty beer signs and cleaned it out, added art. Sometimes less is more and we wanted to make it look like how you would want to be if you were in your own house," Ostrowski said.
Ostrowski's niece, Geri Mulso, is O'Tap's assistant manager and bartender.
“It’s a good mix of family and friends and past regulars and new people," Ostrowski said while surveying the opening night crowd on Friday.
Currently O's Tap only serves liquor and bottled beers (Miller Lite, Coronas, O'Douls, Becks, Angry Orchard), though tap beers are coming soon, Ostrwoski said.
Ostrwoski said Irene is scheduled to return as a guest bartender, possibly for a grand opening, though it depends on her health.
When asked how long he plans to run O's Tap, Ostrowski said, “I’m in my 50s. I hope I’ve got a long way to go to catch up to [Irene]."
O's Tap current hours are noon to 2 a.m, Thursday, Friday and Sunday and noon to 3 a.m. Saturday. No phone number or website. For updates, visit the O's Tap Facebook page.
Alex Sibincic, a Humboldt Park resident at O's Tap on Friday [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
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