With two other city locations, in Lincoln Park and Wrigleyville, John Barleycorn is about to get a little more downtown. The tavern, owned by Michael Gonzalez and Sam Sanchez, who also own Moe's Cantina next door, will span 14,000 square feet over two floors and sport a 75-foot retractable roof that will turn the second floor into a roof deck in summer. If it gets too hot or cold, but still worthy of having the roof open, the room is equipped with both a/c and heat.
The 400-seat spot (about 320 for dining; 80 at the bars), aims to open in mid-November and will generally feel like Barleycorn's other locations in regard to the food and drink, but will have a bit more of a sophisticated feeling in decor. That said, it will still feature scale models of old wooden sailing ships on the walls like the other locations.
The first and second floors will both feature numerous tables for dining and, unlike Wrigleyville, the second level will not feature a dance club to keep things in line with being more upscale. "It's a little step up being in River North," Gonzalez said. "There's a demand for more quality and we tweaked things for the community." With beautiful woodwork throughout, dozens of TVs, five video walls, exposed brick and amber chandeliers, the room will still have a sports bar feel, but with a downtown vibe.
The menu will generally be the same, featuring Barleycorn's signature half-pound burgers, favorites like fish and chips, barbecued baby back ribs and chicken farfalle alla vodka, and numerous soups, sandwiches and pizzas. But where it differs is the addition of a few wet-aged USDA Prime steaks like a 14-ounce NY Strip and an 18-ounce bone-in rib-eye.
The restaurant will have full bars on both levels that will have a focus on craft beers. They'll have about 25 beers between draft and bottle, with the craft offerings leaning toward Chicago outlets (with a lot of Goose Island products) as well as some out of towners like Stone and Lagunitas from California and Ommegang from New York.
"We're sticking with the same menu so it's still comfortable like a Barleycorn," Gonzalez said. " It just feels like a more upscale Barleycorn."
· John Barleycorn [website]