On the list of things Wrigleyville lacks (parking comes to mind), another sports bar doesn’t rank too high. And yet, a spot for the no-longer-21 crowd seems to be the Holy Grail for the area’s nightlife entrepreneurs. It’s too early to tell if the new Harry Caray’s Tavern (3551 N. Sheffield Ave.) in the former Hi-Tops space will end up as rowdy as other neighborhood joints, but if we’ve learned anything in the 100 years since the Cubs last won the World Series, it’s not to give up hope.
“I brought Harry here in 1992,” says Grant DePorter, proprietor of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group. “[At that time] Hi-Tops was the number one place in Wrigleyville, but the city had a moratorium on giving out liquor licenses. People were suing the city, and Harry didn’t want to have to sue. So we passed on it.” Timing is everything, especially in the nightlife industry, so when opportunity knocked again last year, DePorter jumped at the chance to take over Hi-Tops’ lease.
How would the real Caray have felt about the mahogany-paneled tavern? “He would have loved it,” says Dutchie Caray, Harry’s widow. Aside from the 60-foot 6-inch bar (the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate), the spot features countless flat screens, including a 123-inch TV. Food isn’t as fancy as at the franchise’s steak houses; the main selling point here is the Holy Cow Burger Bar. Drinks include the requisite beer and bombs, as well as more playful options, such as the Harry Mary ($10). And as for the crowd, maybe Wrigley Field’s iconic bronze statue of Caray, which points directly at the bar, will keep folks in line.
Photography: Chris Guillen