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Happy Village Sale To Lucky's Sandwiches Falls Through, Alderman Says

By Alisa Hauser | December 5, 2016 5:45pm
 Beloved neighborhood dive Happy Village, known for its serene back patio and indoor rec room, is for sale.
Beloved neighborhood dive Happy Village, known for its serene back patio and indoor rec room, is for sale.
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EAST VILLAGE — A plan to sell neighborhood tavern Happy Village has fallen through, according to Ald. Brian Hopkins, who had agreed to lift a liquor ban on the block so the bar could transfer its license to the owners of Lucky Sandwiches.

Located at 1059 N. Wolcott Ave., Happy Village was founded by owner Cherlyn Pilch's parents in 1964 and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014. The bar dates to the mid 1890s and at one point was a grocery store.

Since last March, plans were underway to sell Happy Village to Jon Donnelly and Joe DeRosa, co-owners of Lucky's Sandwiches.

In September, Donnelly told members of the East Village Association that he planned to keep the beloved neighborhood dive — known for its serene back patio and indoor rec room — pretty much the same.

Donnelly previously said that when talks first started with Pilch, he was not aware of the existing liquor ban prohibiting sales on Wolcott between Division and Augusta. The ban meant the city would have to sign off on the sale so the bar could continue to serve booze.

Members of the East Village Association were mostly in support of the transfer of ownership and the only opposition to lifting the ban came from a few neighbors who live across from Happy Village.

On Monday, Donnelly confirmed that he and DeRosa had gotten a letter from Pilch's attorney about a month ago stating that the deal was off.

Neither Pilch nor her attorney responded to several requests for comment.

Members of City Council were scheduled to discuss whether to lift the liquor moratorium on Oct. 20 but it was pulled from the agenda once the deal was nixed, Jose Rivera, chief of staff to Hopkins (2nd), said.

The moratorium "was not lifted. It would have been, but they pulled out, and that changes circumstances. The alderman has no objection to how Happy Village operates today. The fear is, what will replace it? We are not there. Everything with Lucky's is now off the table," Rivera said.

Hopkins said that he was surprised to find out via lawyers from both sides that there was no deal.

"I thought Lucky's was showing good faith. I was reassured by their willingness to work with neighbors. I have no preference for who eventually buys Happy Village, other to say that whoever it is needs to honor the tradition of it being a community institution that serves and respects the neighborhood," Hopkins said.

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