WICKER PARK — The Shambles, a late-hour Division Street watering hole, is doubling in size and aiming to get a zoning change to allow it to be strictly a tavern rather than a restaurant.
But at the same time, the bar will be upping its restaurant game and offering a new family-friendly seafood concept with more seating, owner Joe Lin said on Tuesday.
"We will be bigger; we just need the zoning change to get the tavern license," Lin said.
Currently, The Shambles at 2050 W. Division St. is open until 4 a.m. most nights and 5 a.m. on Sundays. It has an incidental liquor license, which is reserved for restaurants in which primary sales come from food rather than alcohol.
The city requires any establishment that has alcohol sales as its main source of business have a tavern license.
Closed for remodeling since March 21, The Shambles is expanding from 2,300 square feet to 5,296 square feet with a rear addition on the first and second floors of its three-story building, according to a letter from Lin's lawyer mailed recently to residents living near the bar.
The remodeling will see a new full-service kitchen in the basement, plus eight more bathrooms, bringing the number of bathroom stalls in the bar from an existing two to 10, Lin said.
Shambles' current kitchen is small and tucked away in the back of the first floor, Lin said.
Lin said that The Shambles might change its name and re-brand when the restaurant opens, hopefully by late summer.
"I initiated this because I wanted the option to be a tavern. If we are not able to get the [tavern] license and commercial zoning, I will just keep on as-is," Lin said.
Once reopened, the seafood kitchen will close at 2 a.m. if the change to a commercial zoning is granted, Lin said. Then, during the remaining two or three hours that The Shambles is open, there would not be a legal requirement to also serve food because it would have a tavern and not restaurant license, he said.
Lin said he sought a commercial zoning change because most of the Shambles customers do not eat food after 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. Any bar with an incidental liquor license needs to offer food until it closes.
There are two existing businesses with tavern licenses within 400 feet of The Shambles: Joe's Wine Cellar at 2108 W. Division St. and Queen Mary, a revived tavern at 2125 W. Division St.
The Shambles got a late-hour license in 2011. It is the only late-hour bar on that stretch of Division west of Damen. In 2012 a neighboring bar Innjoy attempted to get a late-hour license but the effort was opposed by neighbors and Ald. Joe Moreno (1st).
In the past, members of the Wicker Park Committee, an influential neighborhood group whose opinions are often sought by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), have been hesitant to approve commercial zoning because of the fact it can allow for taverns to operate without serving food.
Moreno did not respond to requests from comment about whether he supports the zoning request.
Raymond Valadez, Moreno's chief of staff, said that Lin's zoning request will be referred to the Wicker Park Committee and reviewed by its Preservation and Development Committee.
"After the Wicker Park Committee provides its recommendation on the project, the alderman will decide whether he will supports the project or not," Valadez said on Monday.
Paul Dickman, a member of the Wicker Park Committee's Preservation and Development subcommittee, said on Monday that his group was not aware of the zoning change request.
Previously, Ed Tamminga, the group's leader, said that they want to "avoid a trend of commercial licenses that allow the proliferation of bars."
"Restaurants are one thing, C-zoned bars are a different animal," Tamminga said in 2013.
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