Zia announced via Facebook that their last day is October 3, 2021. The space located at 3817 N. Ashland Avenue will be replaced by a Transit Oriented Development (aka, TOD). Rumors are still swirling they may take over the former Blue Bayou space on Southport.
Southport Lanes was built by the Schlitz brewery in 1922 as one of the hundreds of “tied houses” in the Midwest (only Schlitz beer could be served). Once Schlitz sold the bar, the menu offered fornication to help fund the transitional purchase to its new owners in addition to its nobler alcohol distribution efforts. Because prostitution was, and still is, illegal in Chicago, the owner had to subtly advertise the delights to be found upstairs. He did this by having M.K. Siegner paint murals on the walls depicting nymphs frolicking in negligees.
Because prostitution was, and still is, illegal in Chicago, the owner had to subtly advertise the delights to be found upstairs. He did this by having M.K. Siegner paint murals on the walls depicting nymphs frolicking in negligees. These murals can still be seen today, both in the front room and above the bowling pins. Additional murals of these nymphs, sans clothing, could be found along the staircase and in the second floor bedrooms but those have since been painted over.
In 1991, the bar was purchased and renovated by the same owners that later brought us the Daily Bar & Grill, and such now-defunct dillies as Corner Pocket (now Victory Liquors), Hudson Club, and Lucky Strike (now Seven Ten, which also offers bowling and billiards).
Ownership of Southport Lanes has since transitioned to the Spare Time empire, who also owns Seven Ten, Firehouse, Riverview Tavern, Robey Pizza Company, and Popkin Tavern (Richmond, Virginia). Fortunately, the new owners did not mess with the formula that made the original, “Leo’s Southport Lanes,” an excellent tavern. Leo’s was run by Leo and Ella Beitz dating back to 1960, who took over from Leo’s parents who ran it since 1946.
The interior of Schoolyard Tavern is completely gutted, and it looks like it’s suffering the same fate as Southport Lanes
Currently, the interior of Schoolyard Tavern is completely gutted and a dismantle of some-sort is underway. The bar and backroom are both completely ripped out, along with all tables/chairs and other items that were once installed. We’ve reached out to Schoolyard Tavern after their final closing last October on what the current status is with the business, but have yet to hear back. No more website, however Facebook and Twitter are still up.
We should know more on who the national retailer will be taking over this space later this year.
Gearhead (formerly Uncle Dan’s Great Outdoors) closed abruptly on July 13, 2021 at 3551 N. Southport Avenue. The property space was listed for retail rent in the Spring of 2021 on LoopNet, and is currently listed with Seneca Real Estate. Seneca has signed many retail leases along Southport Avenue, and their listing indicates that the space will be ready for rent starting September 1, 2021. Gearhead was outbid from an unknown national retailer on this space, and was ordered to vacate.
Lincoln Square, Highland Park and Evanston are currently still open per the sign on the door.
Frontline Real Estate Partners has taken over the property, and specializes in Real Estate Receivership. “When it comes to receivership companies, we take care of the custodial responsibility of a property with the deepest respect and consideration until the situation is resolved. This stems from knowing and respecting our role and obligations as real estate receivers.”
We’re going out on a limb here, but expect the building to eventually be demolished for a new property including residential and commercial spaces.
In January, news outlets reported the spring return of Southport Lanes after closing in September, 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We have reached out to Southport Lanes, as well as the commercial real estate sector and we are hearing that it is a slim chance that Southport Lanes will be coming back. The listing from Mid-America Commercial Real Estate has recently been updated as well this past month, which never is a good sign of a comeback.