Moonflower, Nightshade cocktail bars coming to former Hops & Barley in Portage Park; building architecturally distinctive due to terra-cotta facade
by BRIAN NADIG
Two new cocktail bar concepts are set to open later this year inside one of the area’s most architecturally distinctive buildings, which was almost demolished in the early 2000s for a proposed CVS Pharmacy.
The Moonflower and Nightshade bars are planned for the former Hops and Barley space at 4359 N. Milwaukee Ave., located at the Montrose-Milwaukee intersection along the border of Portage Park and Jefferson Park. The three-story building, which includes apartments on the upper floors, features a tear-cotta façade with multiple decorative elements.
The Sulejmani family acquired the building nearly 20 years ago and in essence saved it from the wrecking ball, as a developer over many residents’ objections wanted to build a CVS with a drive-through on the property. The family later opened the Hops bar/restaurant in one of the building’s storefronts, but it has been closed since last winter.
“It’s one of the last intersections in the city … where all four corners remain intact, with none of the buildings having been demolished for a drug store, gas station (or other development),” Northwest Chicago Historical Society researcher Frank Suerth said of the site.
Leasing the Hops space is a group of thirty-something-year-olds, Zach Rivera, Christina Chase and Marvin Boeving, who hope their first venture together leads to the formation of their own hospitality group that will feature a variety of restaurant/bar concepts that all have flower/plant-themed names.
The entrepreneurs hope to have Moonflower opened on the establishment’s first floor in about five weeks, featuring a “kind of simple” food menu that has “something for everybody,” offering appetizers, sandwiches, soups and salads, Rivera said. The drink menu will feature cocktails that he described as “new and kind of fun and really well-balanced.”
Moonflower is intended to be a “neighborhood spot,” where many customers will walk to from their home, Rivera said.
Nightshade will be located in the lower level and is scheduled to open about a month after Moonflower, Rivera said. It will have more of a “date-night” atmosphere.
Hops and Barley was kept in great condition, and that is helping with the quick-turnaround to get Moonflower opened, as the group has only be leasing the space for about 2 ½ weeks, Rivera said.
“We’ve taken away some bulky items so it feels more open,” Rivera said of the aesthetic changes being made to the space.
Music at the bars will be an important part of their atmosphere, and Rivera said that he has compiled about 48 hours of music that will be played.
Watch for updates at www.moonflowerbar.com or on its Facebook page.