Longtime Quenchers Saloon owner Earle Johnson is selling the business and retiring after nearly four decades managing the Logan Square bar and venue. Johnson listed the property at 2401 N. Western Avenue last November, but didn't place a for-sale sign out front until last week. The asking price for the two-story building, which includes the bar and venue, an outdoor patio, and two second-level apartments, is $1.65 million.
#CHICAGO HIPSTERS: Who's buying Quenchers before it turns into a condo with a day spa for dogs underneath?
— Ernest Wilkins (@ErnestWilkins) 14 February 2018
What does this mean for Quenchers? The 75-year-old Johnson says he'd prefer to sell the business to someone willing to continue running it as is. The neighborhood saloon carved out a niche in the crowded bar industry by featuring a selection of 250 beers—including craft and international varieties—and nightly performances.
Veteran tavern owner and commercial real estate broker Thomas Gorsuch is representing Johnson as the listing agent for the property. Gorsuch says they're in talks with two interested buyers.
Last summer the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce honored Johnson for his service as a board member of the organization. Former Logan Square Chamber executive director Paul Levin says Johnson’s business has long served as a draw to the neighborhood for its selection of beers and as a venue for smaller acts.
“He was aware of people's changing taste for beer and the emergence of the craft brew movement,” Levin says of Johnson’s business model. “People wanted choices and nobody was doing that.”
Longtime Logan Square resident and Revolution Brewing founder Josh Deth echoes Levin’s comments, but adds that Quenchers has a sentimental value for him. “I remember watching Bulls games during the Jordan era there,” Deth says. “Quenchers is where I had the afterparty for my wedding.”
Deth, who also previously served as the executive director of the Logan Square Chamber of Commerce, believes that Quenchers’ model will continue to work so long as it finds the right buyer. “Every bar needs the right person to run it, and Earle is a great operator."