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4 A.M. Bar 'Tavern' Closing Sunday, Ending A Long Run In Wicker Park Hub

By Alisa Hauser | October 13, 2017 8:47am | Updated on October 14, 2017 7:21pm
 The Tavern in Wicker Park.
The Tavern in Wicker Park
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WICKER PARK —  Late-hour staple Wicker Park Tavern —  which goes by the name Tavern —  will be closing Sunday night, leaving a major vacancy at the bustling corner of North and Damen avenues.

A sandwich board sign in front of the reliable sports bar at 1958 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park says only "Thanks for the memories."

On Thursday, a Tavern bartender who declined to be named told DNAinfo the bar will close for good Sunday.

"The whole building is done; Annex is done too," the bartender said, referring to a 6,000-square-foot dance club above Tavern that opened in February 2016.

Annex, which like Tavern is open until 5 a.m. on Sundays, closed on Oct. 3, according to its Facebook page.

Tavern and Annex have late-hour liquor licenses that do not expire until Nov. 15, 2018, according to city records.

Tavern opened in 2005. Before that, it was Borderline. The bartender said the building has been a bar since 1979, under different names.

"It's the end of an era, all of my co-workers are like family," said the bartender, who has worked at Tavern for five years.

Kevin Lahvic, an artist with a studio in the Flat Iron Arts building across the street from Tavern, lamented the bar's closure, which he says he got wind of about a week ago and had "hoped it was only a rumor."

"Sad to see it go; it's like an old friend passing," Lahvic said.

On Thursday, Norwood Park resident John Sostak was watching sports on one of Tavern's many flat-screen TVs.

"I come here once a week. I will miss it. I love the atmosphere, the people. It's a comfortable bar where you can just enjoy yourself," Sostek said.

The upstairs dance club above Tavern was named Ohm before it was Annex, and back in the '90s it was Red Dog.

Author and former reporter Achy Obejas wrote about Red Dog in a 1993 Tribune story.

"What a weird, fun place the Red Dog is," Obejas observed. "Although strangely reminiscent of some of the late 1970s underground house clubs, the Red Dog is a universe away. After climbing in through an alley, you're immediately deposited onto a vibrating, disco-fied dance floor where the relentless mix is bass-heavy and breathing room is at a premium. Like most of the old house clubs, the Red Dog's a kaleidoscope of races, ages and lifestyles, although the emphasis here is on youth."

Joey Swanson, a music and creative director who started his tenure in 1997 through the end of Red Dog, the launch of Ohm and eventually Annex, issued a statement on the closure.

"Annex (Ohm/Red Dog) were all very special. The room served as a launching pad for so many DJs including Diz, Derrick Carter, Johnny Fiasco, Sneak, Cajmere and so on. It's something that will be missed by both staff and our faithful regulars," Swanson said.

Mike Cho, the longtime manager of Taven and Annex, could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could Tefik "Teddy" Menetti, the building's owner.

Menetti also owns the neighboring Cafe Absinthe at 1954 W. North Ave., which closed earlier this year.

Menetti is part of the Menetti family, which owned Rio Nightclub at 2200 N. Ashland Ave., which was forced to close by the city last year.

Records show the building at 1954-1958 W. North Ave., which houses Tavern, Annex and Cafe Absinthe, is owned by Tefik Menetti. In February, Tefik Menetti bought the building for $1.9 million from a family member, Sam Menetti.

The three businesses are part of a venture called Menetti North Avenue LLC, headed by Menetti, according to state records.

Annex, a dance club in the former Ohm and Red Dog, closed on Oct. 1. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]


"Thanks for the memories" #wickerpark

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