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Theaster Gates Converting Bing Into Bar From Bookstore In Washington Park

By Sam Cholke | November 1, 2016 5:31am | Updated on November 4, 2016 11:41am
 Bing art books is converting into a bar under the new name Bing Reading Room.
Bing Reading Room
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WASHINGTON PARK — Bing art books is undergoing a transformation to become a new bar in Washington Park.

Artist Theaster Gates opened Bing, 307 E. Garfield Blvd., last year as a repository for many of the art books he and his friends were willing to part with.

The bookstore has now moved to the Stony Island Arts Bank, 6760 S. Stony Island Ave., as the Garfield Boulevard storefront is converted into Bing Reading Room, a small bar connected to Gate’s neighboring Currency Exchange Café.

General Manager Megan Jeyifo said the bar has been discreetly working out the kinks by holding private events since getting the liquor license in June. She said she’s hoping to open in four to six weeks.

“It’s just a matter of staffing now and coming up with the menu,” Jeyifo said.

The front of the bar will look largely unchanged from how it was set up as a bookstore, with a long wall of bookcases full of art books next to a long table for reading — and now eating and drinking.

Through a door in the back one finds a small bar stocked with sake-serving bottles and cups specially made by Gates, along with stairs down a lounge that will also host performances, screenings and DJs.

Jeyifo said the bar will have a small, but mindfully curated, list of four specially devised cocktails, four white wines, four red wines and four sakes every season, as well as a selection of bottled beer.

She said the bar will be intimate, with space for 80 people, but will be able to expand to accommodate 200 for private events with the inclusion of the neighboring café.

Jeyifo said the café, which will expand to include dinner service likely in the spring, will prepare a separate menu for the bar of small appetizers and “bar bites.”

She said the bar will be an evening hangout with no plans to extend service into the wee hours of the morning. She said the hours are not set yet, but expects the bar will close around midnight.

Jeyifo said the bar is currently working on the food menu for the bar and hiring a bar manager and bartenders to staff Bing and help craft its cocktail service.

Theaster Gates has specially made sake vessels and cups for the new bar.

The bar is intimate with space for 80 people, including a downstairs lounge.

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