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Abbey Pub Fire Damage 'Worse Than We Thought,' May Not Open Till Feb: Owner

By Alex Nitkin | December 10, 2015 11:02am
 The Abbey likely won't open until February, its owner said Wednesday.
The Abbey likely won't open until February, its owner said Wednesday.
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IRVING PARK — Almost a month after a fire wreaked serious damage on The Abbey, the owner of the pub and music venue is saying it may not be ready to reopen until early next year.

At the time of the fire, which firefighters extinguished soon after it broke out near the back door of the popular spot on Nov. 17, owner Patrick Looney said he was hoping to reopen the business at 3420 W. Grace Ave. within a matter of days.

More than three weeks later, Looney said he's still negotiating with insurance companies and has yet to make any major repairs.

"It's a more involved process than we thought, and there's more damage than we thought," Looney told DNAinfo on Wednesday. "If I had to guess, I'd say we'll have to be closed until at least February."

The fire itself caused only minor damage near the venue's stage, Looney said, but smoke and water blasted by firefighters left the floor, roof and windows in need of serious fixes.

Looney said he and his father, who co-own the pub, are eager to nail down an official reopening date but underestimated the administrative hurdles on the way to getting there.

"A lot has to be coordinated with the city, and the property owners are responsible for some of the repairs, so we're really at the mercy of their schedules," Looney said. "It's frustrating for sure, but we'll get it done."

A silver lining to emerge from the damage, he added, would be the opportunity to replace and "upgrade" some of the bar's facilities, including its speaker system, bathrooms and furniture.

"The real negative right now, though, is all our employees who are out of work," Looney said. "That's what's really putting pressure on us to get this done."

The Abbey employs 20 people full-time and part-time, Looney said.

In the weeks after the fire, previously scheduled concerts were moved to other North Side venues, like Township and Beat Kitchen. The Abbey's next scheduled concert isn't until Feb. 26, according to its website.

"We've had to cancel our shows for the rest of the year, and probably through January, too," Looney said. "Hopefully we won't have to go much further than that."

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