Watch CBS News

Last Call At Guthrie's Tavern As Many Worry About Future Of Other Chicago Bars Amid Pandemic

CHICAGO (CBS) -- It was last call Thursday night at the venerable Guthrie's Tavern in Wrigleyville Thursday night, as the coronavirus pandemic claimed another victim.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported, faithful patrons stood in line at Addison Street and Lakewood Avenue, waiting to make a final visit to the bar that billed itself as a place "where neighbors become friends."

"My wife, my brothers – we spent a lot of time in here," said Brian McConnell.

So McConnell came out to chalk a message of thanks on the sidewalk outside Guthrie's, 1300 W. Addison St., like so many who will miss what the bar meant to the neighborhood after 34 years in business.

One couple wrote that they had their first date at Guthrie's on the 4th of July in 2010 and are now married with two children.

"There's a sense of nostalgia; something we're losing in the neighborhood fabric, which hopefully somebody will regenerate – they'll buy the place, do something real, and we'll have something come back after that," McConnell said. "That's basically Chicago, isn't it?"

The tavern simply cannot afford to keep the drinks flowing. Manager Mark Fellows said the decision by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to shut down bars again effective just after midnight Friday due to the COVID-19 pandemic left no other option.

On Monday, Mayor Lightfoot announced a "retightening" of restrictions amid an uptick of COVID-19 cases. Under the new rules, which were to take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday, taverns, breweries, and other establishments that serve alcohol for on-site consumption without a Retail Food license will no longer be able to serve customers indoors.

"Once the news broke, the owner's like: 'I can't do this anymore. It's not going to happen,'" Fellows said.

And Guthrie's isn't alone. Several bars are struggling to adjust. Among the other is Rossi's in River North.

"If we are to stay shut down into next year, the yeah, this is going to be an issue," said Dennis McCarthy.

McCarthy's family has operated the bar at the corner of State and Hubbard streets for 30 years. Right now, they can only sell pre-packaged liquor to go.

But the reality is that pre-packaged liquor is not getting them over.

"Right now, no, we're not making enough money to pay the rent, and that's tapping into our savings," McCarthy said.

Rossi's supports the city's efforts to combat the virus, and so does the owner of Guthrie's. But still, it hurts to say goodbye.

"Unfortunately in this day and age, it's hard to sustain a small business," Fellows said.

As noted on the website for the bar, Guthrie's location began as a corner grocery store in 1900, and became a corner tap after Prohibition ended in 1933. The bar has changed names over the years, and has been open as Guthrie's since 1986.

Guthrie's was long known for its assortment of board games. As noted on its website, the communal board games were removed due to the pandemic, but guests were encouraged to bring their own in the bar's final couple of weeks.

And as people remained in line hoping for one last drink at Guthrie's, they hoped it would not become the norm to see so many nostalgic and landmark restaurants and bars going out of business due to the pandemic.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.