LINCOLN PARK — College sports fans who root for teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference will soon have a Chicago bar to call home.
Duke University graduate Kyle Silver is gearing up to open his first bar/restaurant, Tobacco Road Taproom, in the former O'Malley's West at 2249 N. Lincoln Ave., sometime this fall.
Tobacco Road Taproom will focus on showing ACC games — something other sports bars in Chicago have failed to do consistently, Silver said.
"Nobody's doing this in Chicago," said Silver, 32, who grew up in Milwaukee and played baseball at Duke.
Silver said there are plenty of ACC fans living in Chicago who need a bar to call home.
"Chicago is so Big Ten focused," he said. "People are removed from the ACC geographically. [The graduates] come back to Chicago and they're away from their collegiate home. They're feeling homesick."
The bar will serve beer, cocktails and an array of curated dishes that pay tribute to ACC universities like a burger with a fried egg on top, which started on the University of Virginia's campus, and a mixed drink called "loose juice," which is popular at University of Miami, Silver said.
Silver values authenticity. He and his friends went on a 15-day road trip to all 15 of the ACC universities to find the food and drinks that each university identifies with.
"Even though we all gained 10 pounds on the trip from eating food and drinking craft beer, it was definitely worth it," he said with a laugh.
The bar is named after the well-known rivalry between Duke and North Carolina. It's also a tribute to an area of North Carolina known for producing tobacco.
Silver is planning to put up art and other decorations that pay homage to the history of Tobacco Road and North Carolina, where he went to college.
He sees the bar as an opportunity to be part of the Lincoln Avenue corridor's resurgence.
"Lincoln Avenue is really on the upswing right now," he said. "You have the chamber backing redevelopment of the corridor, Children's Memorial, DePaul's music building. ... I'm just excited to be in an area that seems to be on its way back."
Tobacco Road Taproom will replace O'Malley's West, which called the building home for 16 years before the owners announced its closure in May.
One of the owners pointed to the years-long delay redevelopment of the Children's Memorial Hospital and decrease in apartments and other affordable housing in the area as reasons for the bar's closure.
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