54-Year-Old Ukrainian Village Dive Bar Moves Closer To $3 Million Gastropub Renovation

Happy Village

Happy Village’s sale clears a hurdle

The Happy Village, as East Village residents have known it for the last 54 years, is a step closer to becoming dive bar history. The East Village Association on Monday night approved a plan to convert the tavern into a gastropub-style spot with a sunroom. It would be run by restaurant a group of industry veterans who worked at acclaimed Fulton Market restaurant Honey’s. They also plan on opening two spots in Logan Square.

The plan needed the association’s approval as the bar’s in the middle of a residential area at Thomas and Wolcott. There have been previous attempts at redeveloping that building at 1059 N. Wolcott Street, but they’ve failed. Happy Village owner Cherlyn Pilch wants to sell and retire. She’s been unable to do that as the purchase requires community approval. The bar is a shot-and-beer-type tavern with a private patio and a game room reserved for ping pong. It doesn’t serve food.

Out to Lunch Hospitality is the potential new ownership. They’re a group formed last year by creative director Andrew Miller and chef Charles Welch. Their company has plans to open a Logan Square bar called X, and a restaurant called Good Fortune in the same neighborhood. They’re spending about $3 million on the renovation which includes demolishing the bar’s game room, according to Block Club Chicago. The building’s sale is pending.

Miller knows it’s still early in the approval process, but if it all goes well they’d like to open sometime in summer 2019 to get some patio weather: “But nothing is set in stone in the city of Chicago,” he emailed.

The second half of 2019 is more realistic. They’ve been eyeing Happy Village for years “when the opportunity presented itself to us, we couldn’t let it pass us by,” Miller emailed. Though it looks like Out to Lunch would keep the Happy Village name, it’s quite a potential transformation for the dive. Out to Lunch has said it wants to keep the bar’s atmosphere intact, but some regulars are skeptical. Regardless, observers have learned that nothing is final when it comes to Happy Village and Alderman (2nd Ward) Brian Hopkins still wants input from neighbors. The bar will turn 55 years old next month.

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