The Great Unload IV: The Chicago Bar

In going through some notebooks in the late summer of 2010, I realized how many odd ideas had been circulating through my head that year, only a few of them meriting, you know, actual follow-up and action. So I started throwing out the possibilities on this site and, lo!, one of them came into being: a re-release of the music of The Painkillers, which saw the group re-form as a result the renewed attention to their career. So, yeah, that was cool.

Today we revisit the Unloading concept. And in doing so, I offer a St. Louis nightclub/restaurant owner the opportunity of a lifetime!

Unlike other ideas, in the summer of ’10, I honest-to-goodness pursued this concept briefly, working with an industry veteran. Buildings were examined, plans were typed up, a lawyer was even summoned for drinks and conversation. And, then, poof! Dead letter office, new addition welcomed.

(This idea, by the by, came back to me just this week, after reading a piece by Stefene Russell on transplanted St. Louisans; you should read it.)

There’s no great reveal to this piece, since the idea’s right there in the lead. If there’s a town that tends to spill over into St. Louis’ population, it’s Chicago. Expats are all over the place, along with attendees of the University of Illinois, who naturally affiliate with Chicago. A bar that appealed to that population would have an obvious, early start on building a regular audience, with TVs consistently tuned to: the Bulls, the Blackhawks, the White Sox, the Cubs, the Bears, the Fire, U of I sports, etc.; and with a kitchen that featured Chicago-style pizza and dogs.

You’d have two flags outside, one for St. Louis, one for Chicago. There’d be Old Style on-tap. Original paintings of the Daleys, MJ 23 and Honest Abe on the walls. Every year, on the anniversary of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the whole bar could riot, freaks versus conservatives, and SLMPD forces could squelch them (while beating on the freaks). Really, the hooks are both obvious and many. It would just take a little nerve.

And here’s why: there’s always going to be some sorta local yokel/a-hole/yay-hoo who’d want to put a brick through a Chicago bar’s front window. You can just see the dude, wearing his Blues sweater and KSHE cap, gettin’ off on stickin’ it to the Windy City with a well-timed toss. But that’s the price of business. The radio stations would give the concept so much free advertising at the beginning of operations that a bit of broken glass would be offset by volume sales of Vienna Beef.

You could go a bit upscale with this, locating on Locust or Washington. You could go a bit downscale, with a spot on way South Grand or Morganford. A true bar professional could open the space with real, live money, not even needing to stand on the digital street corner, shaking that Kickstarter cup.

So, here you go. Enjoy building your business. And remember yo’ boy with an deep-dish anchovy pizza on opening night.