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'Miserable' Owner Of The Dugout Hopes 'Bar Rescue' Can Turn Things Around

By Ariel Cheung | September 7, 2016 6:12am
 It can be difficult to spot The Dugout's entryway on the crowded block of Addison Street next to the
It can be difficult to spot The Dugout's entryway on the crowded block of Addison Street next to the "L" station.
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DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung

WRIGLEYVILLE — Ed Cressy didn't ask for any of this.

Four years ago, he tried to evict The Dugout, 950 W. Addison St., after its former owned failed to pay rent for 10 months, Cressy said.

Instead, "I ended up getting the bar dumped on my lap," he said.

It appears Cressy is in for another surprise, as "Bar Rescue" has filed permits to film at The Dugout this week.

The makeover show follows consultant Jon Taffer as he attempts to turn around struggling bars as cameras document the drama. Taffer — assisted by his wife and daughter — trains staff, rehauls menus and renovates bars in a matter of days.

The show's production company filed filming permits that will expire Tuesday. The city will allow crews to block the south curb lane of Addison Street from Sheffield to the alley. Cables will also be running across Addison Street.

Spike TV declined to comment on whether "Bar Rescue" would air an episode focused on The Dugout.

While Cressy has refused to give up on the bar he didn't really want, he acknowledges the business "needs help."

Nestled behind an ATM and below Bacci Pizzeria, The Dugout is possibly the smallest bar in Wrigleyville, Cressy said. With the buried storefront, "it's hard to get people down here," Cressy said. "And once you do, what's the reason to keep them down here?"

Housed beneath Bacci Pizzeria, an ATM and a ticket box office, The Dugout can seem a little buried by its competition. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

The show has filmed background footage of The Dugout and interviewed Cressy over the past seven months, but he said he hasn't been told yet whether the show will air an episode about his bar.

"That's what I'm waiting for them to tell me," Cressy said Tuesday. "They have not made me a formal offer, but it seems like everybody knows more about it than I do. Maybe they're keeping me in the dark."

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So far, three bars in Chicago have gotten the "Bar Rescue" treatment. The show's first season included episodes featuring The Abbey Pub in Irving Park and Blue Frog 22, which Taffer renamed The Local before its owners later compromised with Blue Frog's Local 22.

The Abbey shut down in November 2015 after a fire caused serious smoke and water damage throughout the building. While owners hoped to reopen in early 2016, there's been little news since.

Jon Taffer stars in "Bar Rescue" on Spike TV. [Provided/Spike TV]

The show returned to Chicago a couple seasons later to recreate Underground Wonder Bar in River North. While owner Lonie Walker said she was "absolutely traumatized" by the show, she viewed the experience as "uproariously funny" after the episode aired in February 2015.

RELATED: River North Bar Owner On 'Bar Rescue': 'I Wouldn't Treat My Dog That Way'

Before filming at The Dugout, "Bar Rescue" has permits to film at the Casual Tap, a closed bar in Portage Park.

After the show's first four seasons, almost two-thirds of the 109 bars featured remain open, according to Bar Rescue Updates, a blog that tracks the show's success. Four have been sold or moved, while 36 closed after the show.

Cressy, 39, said he's heard mixed reviews on the experience of being on "Bar Rescue," but his current "limited options" mean the show could be his best chance to fix his ailing business. 

"I'm always trying to make it a better place," he said. "I'm learning something new every day."

The way things are have left Cressy "miserable," he said. And yet he said he can't close shop.

"Not everybody's got the freedom to give up what they start — get a trust fund from your parents and start new because you feel like it," Cressy said. "You go down a path, you work hard, and you can't give up."

The fifth season of "Bar Rescue" debuted Aug. 7 and airs at 8 p.m. Sundays on Spike TV.

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