Love them or hate them, concept bars—watering holes that serve up a gimmick with that shot and a beer—just keep on coming. The latest example, and my new favorite, is the Reagle Beagle, located on Grand just off the Mag Mile. If the bar’s name doesn’t resonate with you, then you were either born after the mid-eighties or never had an affinity for Chrissy Snow’s ample assets (hello, Three’s Company). Who hasn’t wanted to hang out at the Beagle with Jack Tripper and his rotating cast of sexy co-stars?
“My parents didn’t even allow us to watch Three’s Company,” says 40-year-old owner Bill Scheidhauer, one of eight siblings. The Glen Ellyn native left Lucky Strike Lanes after four years as COO to open this throwback to the seventies and eighties, which pays homage to the shows that defined his (and my) youth. “No one had trademarked the name as a lounge or restaurant,” Scheidhauer says. “The process takes about 14 months, and I’m nine months into it.” Scheidhauer plans to open other spots like this one around town; establishments by the same name in Dallas and Cleveland have no affiliation.
More than 130 photos of old TV characters line the walls—from shows including The Brady Bunch, Happy Days, Facts of Life, and Welcome Back, Kotter—and the music is the soundtrack my generation grew up with (Cyndi Lauper, The Jackson 5, Don Henley). Drinks come with a dollop of kitsch; there’s the Vinnie Ba-Rita and the Tony Danza Extravaganza. Even the plasma TVs loop VH-1 shows I Love the ’70s and I Love the ’80s between playing classic commercials.
Judge by the sign, not by the otherwise glum exterior.
A strictly enforced dress code greets guests: No Member’s Only jackets or Richard Simmons shorts allowed.
I Love the ’80s runs against a backdrop of TV characters.
Beagle goers sample the oh-so-seventies fondue.
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Chicago magazine’s best new bars issue is out! After much grueling research (OK, not that grueling), I’ve made my picks for the city’s top new spots; read about them in the September issue (the story goes online in the next couple of weeks); then post your comments below.
One update: West End, the newest bar from the Four Corners Tavern Group, is located at 1326 West Madison Street and is now aiming for an early October opening.
In other new-bar news: NV Penthouse Lounge, a River North club with stellar views of Chicago’s skyline that I wrote about for September’s Cheers, is now aiming to host a series of grand opening parties around September 20th.
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It’s a celeb-studded weekend in Chicago. A few chances to see the stars:
Thursday, August 16th
Ladies from Flirty Girl Fitness, one of the new striptease-as-exercise centers for women, demo techniques (including the “boa diva” and “coyote ugly”) at The Underground. Supermodel-slash-DJ Sky Nellor spins; Scoop NYC and Lush hand out swag. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Friday, August 17th
Kevin Dillon, a.k.a. Entourage’s Johnny Drama, hosts his 42nd birthday party at Crobar. Doors open at 9 p.m.; the drama starts at 11 p.m., when Dillon is scheduled to show. He’ll take the stage around midnight for a club-wide happy birthday sing-along (how’s that for ego?). Cover is $20.
Saturday, August 18th
Playboy cover girl and Pussycat Doll Carmen Electra hosts RedHot Midnight Kiss, benefiting the Primo Center for Women and Children, at the just-opened Bon V lounge (1100 W. Randolph St). The event runs from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.; tickets start at $250.
Photography: Sarah Preston