WEST LOOP — Less than a week after owners announced plans to open a late-night speakeasy on Randolph, the city officially shut the bar down.
The city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection issued a cease and desist order Dec. 8 to owners of Meet & Whiskey, a speakeasy below Porkchop restaurant at 941 W. Randolph St., for operating a business without the required licenses, said Angel Hawthorne, spokesperson for agency.
Once the Meet and Whiskey owners have applied for and received the necessary licenses, the establishment will be allowed to reopen, Hawthorne said.
It is unclear whether the speakeasy ever did open to the public. Owners planned to open the late-night speakeasy on Thursday, Dec. 8, and spread the news on social media and to the press.
With an unassuming back-alley entrance through an unmarked door, patrons were told they could access the Prohibition-themed bar with a password posted on Instagram weekly or as an invited guest for private events. If the red light above the unmarked door is on, the speakeasy was said to be open for business.
But a spokesperson said the bar never did "officially open."
"They planned to open but once it was announced the city contacted them and informed them that the permitting was still in process and the opening was then delayed," Michelle Mekky, spokesperson for Meet & Whiskey owners, wrote in an email.
Mekky said a few small private events have been hosted in the space, but not events open to the public.
"We hope to be fully open as soon we possibly can once we have the OK from the city," Mekky wrote.
Meet & Whiskey's Facebook has also been deleted.
The order to close, and Meet & Whiskey's lack of response on social media, confused West Loop patrons.
On an Instagram post three weeks ago, dozens of people asked for the speakeasy's password. Among them, one person wrote: "I was bummed you were full last weekend, but I'd love to swing by for my birthday boubon tonight! Password please?"
Another wrote: "Tried to come last week but never got the password said i would [get it] this week??"
And another: "Password? Still open? I tried replying to the FB message with you last week and the account is now deleted?!"
Through the Instagram account, a representative for Meet & Whiskey responded: "Still open," followed by a winking face emoji.
In response to another patron, the rep responded: "We see you on our radar, once we have some room we will get you in."
On another Instagram post, the rep wrote: "Speakeasys are secretive my friend, stay tuned."
Despite the Cease and Desist order, Porkchop was advertising the downstairs speakeasy on Facebook and Instagram Friday.
"Have you guys heard about our new speakeasy downstairs our West Loop location? Must have the password to enter!" the post read.
Meet & Whiskey is the vision of French-born restaurateur Jovanis Bouargoub, who owns six Porkchop restaurants in the Chicago area, with plans to open three more restaurants in the works.
Inspired by the Roaring '20s, Bouargoub plans to keep the bar open late Thursdays and Fridays until 2 a.m. and on Saturdays until 3 a.m., a spokesperson said.
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