“Wines should be fun,” says Tom Powers, in a sentiment we can all get behind. Powers, a former colleague of the restaurateur Jerry Kleiner, is the owner and sommelier of the wine bar The Lunatic, the Lover & the Poet (736 W. Randolph St., no phone yet). Powers believes wine culture has lagged behind craft beer and craft cocktails in infecting the public with their passions. “We are not embracing the public and letting them feel they are participating in our joy,” he says. “We should come from a place of humility and joy.”
Powers says the place will stack 7,000 square feet into two and a half floors—the half-floor a wine cellar with a private table for 12. The first floor seats about 80, all told, in a “humble” space narrower than usual, the lot measuring only 18 feet wide instead of Chicago’s standard 25. Of the 24 wines on tap, ten will cost less than $10 a glass.
On the second floor, called the Parlor, more-ornate decor such as leathers and velvets pair with more-expensive and rarer wines. James Geier of 555 International designed both spaces. Although the two floors offer different drinks, they share the same few-ingredients, small-plates food menu.
The Lunatic, the Lover & the Poet draws its name from a passage in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, where Theseus explains that all three have passions that in some way become manifest. Powers hopes his passion will become manifest in October.