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Will Fire-Damaged Abbey Pub Reopen? 'Back To The Bar' Paid A Visit

By Patty Wetli | September 15, 2017 4:05pm | Updated on September 18, 2017 8:35am
 Abbey Pub, closed since late 2015, will be featured on Sunday's episode of Spike TV's
Abbey Pub, closed since late 2015, will be featured on Sunday's episode of Spike TV's "Back to the Bar."
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Screenshot/Back to the Bar

IRVING PARK — It's been nearly two years since the Abbey Pub was closed after a fire and when, or whether, the popular bar and music venue will reopen remains unclear.

Sunday's episode of Spike TV's "Back to the Bar" revisited the Abbey, which was featured on "Bar Rescue" in 2011 (perhaps not coincidentally, that "Bar Rescue" episode was re-aired in August).

In a preview of the show, members of the Looney family, who own the Abbey, 3420 W. Grace St., walked the TV crew through the gutted bar.

"This was our life, our livelihood," matriarch Bridget Clooney said. "It's gone, gone."

Initially the Looneys had believed the damage was minor and expected a quick recovery. 

"We'll be open soon enough," Thomas Looney told DNAinfo in November 2015. "There will be a fresh coat of paint and everything."

But as "Back to the Bar" revealed, even though the fire was struck quickly, smoldering heat continued to char equipment and furnishings.

In December 2015, Patrick Looney told DNAinfo that negotiating with the insurance company and coordinating repairs with the property's owners had proved more complicated than the family estimated.

"It's frustrating for sure, but we'll get it done," he said.

Months after the fire, frozen pipes burst in the apartment above the bar and flooded the Abbey, causing a second wave of damage.

"The longer it goes, it's harder to imagine everything's going to come back," the Looneys told the "Back to the Bar" crew.

According to the Tribune, the Looneys still are dealing with insurance and landlord issues.

"But it would be a great thing to have the Abbey rise from the ashes," Tom Looney told the Tribune.

The "Bar Rescue" team has launched a GoFundMe campaign to get the Looneys back on track, with a goal of $75,000. As of Monday morning, $8,000 had been raised, including a $2,500 contribution from "Bar Rescue" host Jon Taffer.

But the property has been listed as "for lease" by the building's owners.

"Great space for a restaurant, cocktail lounge, sports bar & grill, club etc. Used to be home of the famous The Abbey Pub & Grill," according to the listing.

"Bar Rescue" staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the GoFundMe.

Public records indicate the building changed hands in July 2015. In April 2017, the Abbey Pub filed a "lis pendens," or notice of pending legal action, which is used to indicate a dispute related to the property.