Beckett's in 2009
Beckett’s, in fall 2009; see more photos

This just in: On a phone call today with Martin Cournane—the co-owner of Wilde Bar & Restaurant and Beckett’s Public House, both in Lake View, plus the in-the-works Lady Gregory’s (5260 N. Clark St.) in Andersonville—I got the scoop on some upcoming changes, including how Cournane is putting two new hires to work despite a high-profile setback.

Lady Gregory’s beverage director–to-be, Kyle McHugh (a.k.a. “The Boozehound” and the owner of the now-shuttered specialty wine and spirits shop Drinks Over Dearborn), and the bar’s chef, James Day (Saloon Steakhouse, Nia Mediterranean), had hoped to debut their menus to the public this month, but when Lady Gregory’s was hit by a fire in early March—destroying a just-installed custom bar and much of the main dining room—those plans shifted to the back burner.

In the meantime, “after the fog cleared,” Cournane says, he asked McHugh and Day to turn their attention to tweaking the concept at Beckett’s. On May 2nd, that spot will toss its old menus (a mix of the usual bar suspects and Irish pub fare, with beer, wine, and martinis on the drink list) and debut a new lineup of craft beers and gourmet burgers (ten varieties to start, all certified-humane Angus beef). Also on tap: a dozen new draft lines, bringing the total number of drafts up to 28 and the total beer count, including bottles, up from 40 to 300-plus. And for those who can’t quite commit: five-ounce beer pours served with mini burgers. (The one non-burger item Cournane mentioned, the Jack and Coke Chicken Waffle Sandwich, left me agog: fried chicken marinated in Coca-Cola, nestled between two waffles, and topped with bacon-infused whipped cream and Jack Daniels maple syrup. It’s not just for brunch, kids.)

So why the switcheroo at Beckett’s? “We noticed craft beers were already selling well in both our current locations, and people don’t seem to be afraid to spend $10 or $12 on a good beer, even in these times,” Cournane says. Why, yes, we’ve noticed that, too.

On Beckett’s new beer focus, McHugh says: “We’re not just a Belgian beer place or a local beer place. We’re trying to be an all-around good beer place.” The new beer list will include four gluten-free options, and daily specials will be broadcast via Facebook and Twitter. McHugh is bringing some gadgets with him, too, including a Le Verre de Vin system—used to preserve Champagne and wine after the bottles have been uncorked—which he plans to use on beer. “You can try five ounces of an expensive beer that you might never buy for yourself in a large-format bottle,” he says.

As for Lady Gregory’s, Cournane is shooting for a June opening. “We’ll be ready, construction-wise, but it all depends on how timely the city is about coming out for inspections.” Yep—we’ve heard that, too.


Photograph: Megan Dodge