WICKER PARK — If everything goes as planned, a gastropub featuring reggae, salsa and jazz music will open by the end of the year in the soon-to-close Jerry's Sandwiches, the owners behind the new concept said on Thursday.
Located at 1938 W. Division St., Jerry's last day in Wicker Park will be Sept. 24.
Zafer Genc, a real estate investor who was previously part of a group that ran Union Park Lounge in the West Loop, said he bought Jerry's liquor and public place of amusement licenses.
Along with a business partner he met while working at the now closed Union Park Lounge, Genc said he signed a 10-year-lease for Jerry's 4,500-square-foot storefront, just east of Division Street and Damen Avenue along a busy stretch packed with bars.
"I think its a great location. I like the patio. It's great for brunch and lunch and hopefully dinner," said Genc, who lives in Park Ridge but owns an apartment building in West Town and says he is in the area frequently.
Though still in what he described as "conception mode," the basics of the new venture are a gastropub focused on live music.
"I think everyone in the area loves music and the direction of Wicker Park has changed. It has gotten younger," Genc said.
Genc and his partner are not ready to divulge the name of the new spot or the architect, but said it will have an interior design "that blends industrial and rustic."
About 90 percent of the music will be live bands but DJs could spin during happy hours and when bands are not booked, said Genc's partner, an Avondale resident who currently works for another restaurant group and said he can't yet disclose his name.
Genc's partner said he is "super excited" about taking over Jerry's and promised major changes to how the space is currently laid out, including an interior demolition that will knock out a wall separating the dining room from the bar.
"I'm all about flow and direction and making it easier for guests," the partner said, adding that he is "heavy into jazz" but the bar's music will be "happy music, stuff everyone likes to hear, from country to cover bands to salsa."
A chef has not yet been brought on but an expansion on bar food — more than just wings and burgers — will be the goal, augmented by cocktails and beer.
Despite having expanded into a neighboring storefront in 2012, nearly doubling its size and offering a big 70-seat patio, Jerry's was often not as busy as other bars nearby.
Jerry's co-owner Mark Bires, who runs the business with his wife, Mindy Friedler, previously said they decided to exit Division Street and focus on their Lincoln Square and Andersonville outposts because Division Street is changing.
"Division Street in the last few years has turned very young and sports bar centric," he said, jokingly referring to the area as "Wrigleyville West."
Genc's partner assured that the concept will not be another sports bar.
"Our goal is to stand out. When you look at Division between two blocks west of Damen and where Parlor [Pizza bar] is, everything looks the same. People pay for atmosphere. That's the goal," he said.
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