Quantcast

Cullinan's Stadium Club Closes Amid Summer Slump

By Howard Ludwig | August 3, 2017 6:14am | Updated on August 7, 2017 10:36am
 Dan Cullinan, owner of Cullinan's Stadium Club, stands outside of his shuttered bar and grill in Morgan Park with a framed poster that features the names of those who helped to contribute to a GoFundMe effort that rescued his bar from tax collectors in December.
Dan Cullinan, owner of Cullinan's Stadium Club, stands outside of his shuttered bar and grill in Morgan Park with a framed poster that features the names of those who helped to contribute to a GoFundMe effort that rescued his bar from tax collectors in December.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig

MORGAN PARK — Customers rescued Cullinan's Stadium Club in Morgan Park from tax collectors in December, but the bar and grill at 11610 S. Western Ave. could not survive its annual summer slump.

Owner Dan Cullinan said Wednesday he was faced with a decision July 15 to either pay $4,500 to renew his liquor license for two years or close his doors.

Cullinan, 52, opted to close the tavern he opened 29 years ago, saying the prospect of two more months of disappointing summer sales along with a weak outlook influenced his decision.

"It's time. It's run its course," Cullinan said. "It was a nice run, and I am proud of what we did here."

Cullinan also said he's been suffering from leg and back pain since October. Since deciding to close the bar, his symptoms have subsided — a change he credits to removing the stress of running the business.

Cullinan's Stadium Club was first closed by the Illinois Department of Revenue Dec. 8. A tax discrepancy was blamed for the bright green stickers announcing the closure being stuck to the outside of the bar known for its cheeseburgers, Lenten fish frys and cold beer.

A GoFundMe effort was launched to help pay Cullinan's taxes and raised $14,215. The bar reopened Dec. 30 as hundreds of customers rallied to the cause. A poster with the names of the donors was one of the few things left behind the bar Wednesday morning.

"I will never forget it," said Cullinan, who likened himself to George Bailey from the classic Christmas movie "It's a Wonderful Life" after the money was raised to save his business.

Cullinan's Stadium Club closed July 15. Owner Dan Cullinan said $4,500 was due to renew his liquor license for two years. But he worried business going forward wouldn't justify the cost. [DNAinfo/Howard A. Ludwig]

But the gains from reopening were short-lived, and the predicable summer slump made it difficult to justify carrying on. Cullinan said many bars on Western Avenue on the Far Southwest Side see sales slump in the summer months — unless the bar has a beer garden or another summer promotion.

He also said the bar business has changed since he opened his place that features a ceiling made to look like a football field. Back then, he said more people went to neighborhood bars and more frequently.

Cullinan briefly shopped his storefront tavern to several North Side pizza parlors as a potential pizza pub. But the existing kitchen would need to be expanded for such an endeavor, and Cullinan found no takers.

Cullinan even floated the idea in 2015 of renaming the bar Cullinan's Center Ice. He hoped to attract families attending hockey games and practices at the nearby Morgan Park Sports Center. But he never was able to generate enough money to fund such a remake.

He still believes in the Western Avenue bar scene, but he said his bar needs major reinvestment. He was unwilling to fund such an effort, though he credited others such as Open Outcry Brewing Co., Horse Thief Hollow and Barney Callaghan's Pub for their vision.

He reminded customers not to forget other bars in the area that have been supporting area schools, churches and fundraisers for years before the arrival of these ambitious newcomers.

He invited a few regulars for one last round Tuesday night. And while closing the business is sad, he said the evening was overall joyous.

"We were probably having more laughs last night than we had in a long time remembering the good old days," Cullinan said.