SNOMG! was so fun for a while, right? First there was the anticipation and the stocking up, followed by the hunkering down, the act of being bodily blown down the street during an adrenaline rush of a midnight blizzard stroll, the hours of happy tromping and shoveling, and then—what?
At about 4 p.m. yesterday I started wondering if any nearby bars were open, and thanks to the oh-so-helpful Twitter hashtag #openinchicago, I discovered that my closest option was The Bar on Buena, in Buena Park.
The Creative Director and I bundled up. “I hope that hashtag thing is for real,” I worried aloud. “What if no one’s there? But if it doesn’t work out, at least we will have taken a walk.”
People were there.
“OK, we’re looking at a loooong wait for two,” the waitress said, ticking off the number of tables ahead of us on her list. Nine. What else did we have to do? Awkwardly clutching our fur hats and facemasks in one hand, we juggled beers in the other (a Lagunitas IPA for TCD, $4.50, and an Ayinger for me, $5.50) and evaluated our fellow blizzaster survivors.
“How many college sweatshirts can you fit in a bar?” asked TCD, who had donned a wool sweater over a slim button-down for our reentry into society. “I used to think of this as more of a 30-something kind of place.”
“Oh, give them a break,” I said, defending the cozy-casual crowd. “These are their Snowly Cow clothes. They are 30 and older, and the sweatshirts are probably their vintage shoveling attire.”
Standing at the end of the bar near the teeny, tiny kitchen, which was churning out an improbable number of platters heaped with French fries, we were privy to some inside info. Most of the red-faced would-be patrons who came in after us were suiting right back up upon receiving news of the wait. “They’re mostly going to Michael’s,” the hostess told us. “It’s a little pizza place around the corner that gets you in and out.”
“Were you expecting this kind of crowd today?” we asked.
“No! I tried calling before my shift to see if we were going to be busy, but no one answered the phone,” she explained. “So I came in thinking the staff was probably sitting around playing cards. Then I saw this!” It was a crowd comparable to a Friday night, she said, but to us—after a day of watching Ellen and staring out the window at a deserted street—it looked like the most people we had ever seen in one place at one time.
The wait, in case you’re wondering, was worth it. A table for two next to the window, another round, and two juicy cheeseburgers later, I was thrilled we had abandoned the couch. There were still 200 cars stuck on Lake Shore Drive, and the kids in the house next door were gearing up for another snow day, but in the midst of Snowpocalypse 2011, we were heartened to find we could still get a beer in the City That Works.
Also open and busy last night: Vertigo Sky Lounge, where the Dana hotel staff and drinkers spent four and a half hours building this 10-foot monster snowman on the bar’s patio (above right). Go have a cocktail with him tonight: The lounge is open.