My first visit to Lincoln Hall—the slick new Lincoln Park venue from the brothers behind Lake View’s beloved Schubas—was all about the music. We donned wristbands, grabbed beers, and hugged the second-floor railing of the meticulously crafted performance space, swaying to the sounds of indie folk. The crowd was chill; the bathrooms were clean; and the bartender was cool: my idea of a stellar concert experience.
A few days later, a friend wanted to meet for a weeknight drink in the neighborhood. Since Lincoln Hall’s front-of-house bar is open to the non-ticket-holding public on nonshow (and slow) nights, I suggested we head there. The crowd we encountered skewed older than at most of the DePaul area’s barely 21 haunts: We witnessed real grownups talking over dinner and a lineup of 30-something men watching a Blackhawks game at the bar. We perched alongside them and ordered $3 Anchor Steams, then eavesdropped as the manager dispensed beer recommendations. After acknowledging us with a nod, he pointed out two things we should try: the roasted chicken wrap with Tater Tots ($7.95) and the jukebox loaded with off-the-beaten-path tunes from musicians on the venue’s upcoming calendar (free!).
“Let’s talk to the hat boys,” my friend suggested, gesturing toward two drinkers a few seats down. Emanuel (knit hat) and Woo (newsboy cap) were longtime Schubas fans who had hoped to catch a show but didn’t check the schedule before trekking from downtown. “That’s OK. We’re just hanging out,” said Emanuel, who proceeded to ask my opinion of two women whose photos were saved in his cell phone. Steering the conversation back to the matter at hand, I wondered aloud if Lincoln Hall reminded the guys of Schubas. “No way,” said Woo. “This place seems more yuppie—maybe a little older.” And is that a problem? I asked. “We don’t think so,” interjected an off-duty Lincoln Hall bartender, Zack. “But we’ll see how long it takes for the college sophomores to show up.”
GO: LINCOLN HALL
2424 N. Lincoln Ave.; lincolnhallchicago.com
Photography: Chris Guillen