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WICKER PARK — Late-hour staple Wicker Park Tavern — which goes by the name Tavern — will be closing on Sunday night, leaving a major vacancy at the bustling North and Damen avenues corner.
A sandwich board sign in front of the reliable sports bar at 1958 W. North Ave. in Wicker Park says only, “Thanks for the memories.”
On Thursday, a Tavern bartender who declined to be named, told DNAinfo that the bar will close for good on Sunday.
“The whole building is done; Annex is done too,” the bartender said, referring to a 6,000 square foot dance club above Tavern that opened in February 2016.
Annex, which like Tavern is also open until 4 a.m. during the week and 5 a.m. on Sunday, closed on Oct. 3, according to its Facebook page.
Tavern and Annex have late-hour liquor licenses that do not expire until Nov. 15, 2018, according to city records.
Tavern opened in 2005. Before that, it was Borderline. The bartender said the space was a bar since 1979, under different names.
“It’s the end of an era, all of my coworkers are like family,” said the bartender, who has worked at Tavern for five years.
Kevin Lahvic, an artist with a studio in the Flat Iron Arts building across the street from Tavern, lamented the bar’s closure, which he says he got wind of about a week ago and had “hoped it was only a rumor.”
“Sad to see it go, it’s like an old friend passing,” Lahvic said.
On Thursday, Norwood Park resident John Sostak was watching a sports game on one of Tavern’s many flat-screen TVs.
“I come here once a week. I will miss it. I love the atmosphere, the people. It’s a comfortable bar where you can just enjoy yourself,” Sostek said.
The upstairs dance club above Tavern was named Ohm before it was Annex, and back in the 90s, it was Red Dog.
Author and former reporter Achy Obejas wrote about Red Dog in a 1993 Tribune story.
“What a weird, fun place the Red Dog is,” Obejas observed. “Although strangely reminiscent of some of the late 1970s underground house clubs, the Red Dog is a universe away. After climbing in through an alley, you’re immediately deposited onto a vibrating, disco-fied dance floor where the relentless mix is bass-heavy and breathing room is at a premium. Like most of the old house clubs, the Red Dog’s a kaleidoscope of races, ages and lifestyles, although the emphasis here is on youth.”
Mike Cho, the longtime manager of Taven and Annex, could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could Tefik Menetti, the building’s owner.
Menetti also owns the neighboring Cafe Absinthe at 1954 W. North Ave., which closed earlier this year.
Menetti is part of the Menetti family, which owned Rio Nightclub at 2200 N. Ashland Ave., which was forced to close by the city last year.
Records show the building at 1954-1958 W. North Ave., which houses Tavern, Annex and Cafe Absinthe, is owned by Tefik Menetti. In February, Tefik Menetti bought the building for $1.9 million from a family member, Sam Menetti.
The three businesses are part of a venture called Menetti North Avenue LLC, headed by Menetti, according to state records.
Annex, a dance club in the former Ohm and Red Dog space, closed on Oct. 1. [DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser]
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