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Double Door owners literally breaking the bank to revive famed music venue in new home in Chicago

Double Door owners reviving famed music venue in historic Uptown building
Double Door owners reviving famed music venue in historic Uptown building 03:25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- From the Rolling Stones to Chance the Rapper, it's been years since the doors closed at the iconic Double Door music venue in Wicker Park. Plans have been in the works to reopen the venue inside an historic spot in Uptown. While progress has been slow, there's been a lot of work done behind the scenes.

As they work to revive the Double Door, owners and business partners Sean Mulroney and Pete Bruce riff like they're bandmates.

"I'm the hardware, he's kind of the software, and it goes together perfect, you know?" Bruce said.

"Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were referred to as the Glimmer Twins in the early Stones era. So, since we're basically the same age, we have taken the mantle and we're running with it. The Glimmer Twins," Mulroney said.

Mulroney and Bruce give each other credit where credit is due.

"Sean's just genius with music. I don't have an ounce of musical ability in my whole my body," Bruce said.

"He's the guy that rolls up his sleeves, and knocks s*** down, and punches holes in things," Mulroney said.

They're putting their talents together in Uptown, where they're renovating the Wilson Theater building into the Double Door's new home.

It was built in 1909 as a vaudeville burlesque theater. In 1919, it was converted into a bank. A bank it's been until friends bought it.

"So they gave us their price, and Pete went in and he goes, 'Not going to happen. I'll offer you this,' and they took it," Mulroney said.

Mulroney and Bruce needed a space to reintroduce Double Door.

"We did every style of music, every way of music, and we did over 250-60 shows a year," Mulroney said.

"Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins – who played there five times,"

The music venue Mulroney helped open in 1994 had a home in Wicker Park until 2017, when a dispute with the landlord led to an eviction, and the eventual sale of the building.

"Realizing the impact that Double Door had on other people's lives, I didn't have any clue about until we closed," Mulroney said.

For the past three years, Double Door has been working on a second act.

"We're going to keep the grunge that was Double Door. It has to be – we're a dirty rock club," Mulroney said.

"It's just a place to be yourself and to just be," Bruce said.

The first step in making the new building a music venue requires breaking the bank; literally.

"I wake up every morning, and just can't wait to get to work, and figure out what I'm going to Demolition today, Bruce said.

Bruce has done most of the demolition work solo, including a 1919 vault door that weighed 8 tons.

"There was approximately 2,400 pieces to this door, and I dismantled piece by piece," he said.

It's been a process as lengthy as waiting on the city to approve their design.

"Because it's a historic building, we had the go through the landmarks approval," Mulroney said.

"The extensive research and investigation they had to do structurally was time-consuming," Bruce said.

As of December, they have permits for construction, but they're holding out hope for a grant.

"We have had incredible input and feedback from the City of Chicago with their Cultural Recovery Grant, which is federally funded," Mulroney said.

This duo won't give up on opening doors to the Double Door. You can take that to the bank. They're aiming for late 2024 or early 2025.

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