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See How 'Bar Rescue' Transformed Wrigleyville's Dugout Into Press Box

By Ariel Cheung | March 1, 2017 5:58am | Updated on May 28, 2017 7:55pm
 After The Dugout appeared on an episode of "Bar Rescue," it has been renamed Press BOx.
See What The Dugout Looks Like Now As Press Box
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WRIGLEYVILLE — A hapless bar owner with a dive bar smack dab next to Wrigley Field got the "Bar Rescue" treatment just in time for the World Series.

And it looks pretty awesome.

The Dugout, a small basement-level bar below Bacci's Pizza at 950 W. Addison St., has been operating anew as the Press Box since last September. The "Bar Rescue" episode depicting its transformation, "Struck Out At The Dugout" will air at 9 p.m. Sunday on Spike TV.

What used to be a stripped-down sports bar with head-sized fish bowl specials has become an olive-walled tribute to a 1940s press box, with a sleek wooden bar and old-style typewriter accents.

Fans of the Chicago flag Old Style mural that waved customers into the bar might be sad to see a creamy replica of a Wrigley Field wall, complete with ivy and the lyrics to "Take Me Out To The Ballgame."

But it appears that "Bar Rescue" changed much more than the decor.

In a preview clip posted Tuesday from Spike, "Bar Rescue" host Jon Taffer and his team watch secret video of The Dugout.

After two customers order food, Taffer grimaces as the meals are prepared in dirty, smoking fryers. Employees repeatedly contaminate food as fruit flies buzz around the bar:

"There are flies all over the place," the crew comments as they observe the food preparation. "This guy has no clue what he's doing."

The makeover show, now in its fifth season, follows Taffer as he tries to turn around struggling bars as cameras document the drama. Taffer — assisted by his wife and daughter — trains staff, overhauls menus and renovates bars in a matter of days.

While fans hoping for Dugout drama will have to tune in Sunday to see how Taffer and The Dugout owner Ed Cressy get along, the bar did share photos of its new look in September.

Some have also shared photos inside The Press Box, enjoying a slice of Bacci's Pizza and proving that some things never change.

Cressy said he never intended to get into the bar business. Four years ago, he tried to evict The Dugout, at 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.

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

Cressy did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday on his experience with "Bar Rescue."

Formerly The Dugout, this Wrigleyville bar got the "Bar Rescue" treatment and is now known as Press Box. [All photos Facebook/Press Box]

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?"

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.

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.

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.

Prior to the overhaul of the Dugout, Cressy, 39, said he'd heard mixed reviews on the experience of being on "Bar Rescue," but his "limited options" meant 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."