Boka Restaurant Rumors: Sugargoat and ‘Sushi’ (Momotaro?) possibly joining GG’s Chicken Shop

After Boka announced GG’s Chicken Shop this past week, rumors are swirling on the other two concepts to be announced in early 2022

BOKA restaurant group will be taking over the former Southport Lanes building, and the first of three restaurants was announced this past week.

“Boka should debut all three over the summer, but the company is only ready to reveal details about one of its entries. GG’s Chicken Shop, a fast-casual pop-up that debuted during the pandemic as a ghost kitchen operating out of the Boka’s Michelin-starred namesake in Lincoln Park, will serve fried chicken sandwiches, salads, and more.”

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Boka Restaurant Group opening three restaurants in the former Southport Lanes building

GG’s Chicken Shop is the first of three arrivals inside the 118-year-old building in Chicago's Southport Corridor

One of Chicago’s most successful restaurant groups, Boka, plans on opening three restaurants in Lakeview’s Southport Corridor neighborhood, inside the 118-year-old former bowling alley space that belonged to Southport Lanes before it closed last year in Lakeview.

Boka should debut all three over the summer, but the company is only ready to reveal details about one of its entries. GG’s Chicken Shop, a fast-casual pop-up that debuted during the pandemic as a ghost kitchen operating out of the Boka’s Michelin-starred namesake in Lincoln Park, will serve fried chicken sandwiches, salads, and more. Executive Chef Lee Wolen is a kind of a chicken whisperer known for his roast chicken at Boka. He’ll serve a version of the item at GG’s along with a full slate of sides. Wolen says he imagines adding a rotisserie and cooking veggies like cauliflower on the spit.

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Boka Restaurant Group leases Southport Lanes building

The Boka Group has officially leased the former Southport Lanes space, and is planning on bringing in a new restaurant concept to the Southport Corridor.

Move by Boka Signals Future Plans at Former Schlitz Tied House in Chicago's Southport Corridor neighborhood

One of Chicago’s best-known restaurant groups plans to move into a historic, Schlitz-built structure on the city’s North Side that has functioned at various times as a tavern, speakeasy, illegal off-track betting parlor, brothel and bowling alley.

Continue reading “Boka Restaurant Group leases Southport Lanes building”

Former Southport Lanes site no longer listed for lease

New restaurant rumors swirling around

Southport Lanes closed for good last Fall, and for the past year, the site has been listed for lease. Recently, Mid-America Real Estate had the site active for lease, but has recently taken it down.

In the SoPo rumor-ville, the building could be leased (or in the process of being leased) by The Boka Restaurant Group as a new restaurant.

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Former Southport Lanes space for lease

Southport Lanes is officially closed, and the auction of items has ended. Signs have begun to be taken down and the property is for lease.


Southport Lanes has been liquidated and the space is now for lease.

The listing from Mid-America Commercial Real Estate includes a mixed-use retail space.  See the listing in the photos below.

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The history, and now dismantling of Southport Lanes

Southport Lanes was built by the Schlitz brewery in 1922 as one of the hundreds of “tied houses” in the Midwest

Southport Lanes is officially closed, and the auction of items has ended. Signs have begun to be taken down and for the first time in decades, you are able to see the old facade.

Leo’s Southport Lanes in the 1960’s and 1970’s

Excerpts from the Chicago Bar project from several years ago:

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. 

Southport Lanes – 1990’s

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. 

Southport Lanes – July, 2021

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.

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Southport Lanes Auction starts this week

Officially the end of an era.

As you know, Southport Lanes, the 98-year-old Chicago bowling alley, bar and billiards hall in Lake View, will not reopen after closing last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Southport Lanes not reopening; Liquidation to start July 20 – for everything

Everything including the iconic door sign will be available

Southport Lanes at 3325 N. Southport will not be reopening, and everything inside and out will be liquidated.

Continue reading “Southport Lanes not reopening; Liquidation to start July 20 – for everything”

Southport Lanes may not be coming back after all (Update: It’s not)

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.

See the brochure after the jump.

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Southport Lanes could reopen this spring

Some good news after a year of awfulness, Southport Lanes could reopen this spring according to Block Club Chicago.

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