The House of Glunz wine shop first opened in Chicago in 1888 at the corner of Wells and Division where it still stands. Shortly after opening, Louis Glunz I opened up an adjacent tavern for food and drinks, but when Prohibition hit, the tavern was shuttered. Now decades later, his granddaughter, Barbara Glunz, and her son, Christopher Donovan, who run the shop together, plan to once again open The Glunz Tavern toward the end of June.
Aiming to be a neighborhood spot that harks back to the time the original tavern was open, this new restaurant will feature updated classics on a menu being created with consulting chef Allen Sternweiler. While it's still in development, the menu will feature dishes like rotating cheese, charcuterie and pate; sausages, frog legs, daily soups, salads, wiener schnitzel, boeuf bourguignon, various stews and coq au vin. "I hate to use the word small plates," Barbara Glunz said, "but we'll have a lot of hot and cold appetizers and some entrees."
The space where the Tavern will go has been used to hold classes and private events over the years and it's also where Glunz houses its extensive crystal collection, antiques and other Chicago ephemera that has appeared over the years. Most of those pieces will be moved into a small tasting room, but Glunz and Donovan are currently in the process of picking select items to showcase in the dining room, some reflecting true Chicago history.
The 48-seat tavern will boast some fantastic artifacts from past Chicago restaurants including the Byfield Bar from the original Pump Room, tables and chairs from the old Berghoff and tables from the shuttered Red Star Inn, which sat across the street from the Germania Inn on Clark Street, but was razed in 1970 to make way for Sandburg Village. The room will boast vintage dark wood, beautiful stained glass windows that will hang on the walls with lights behind them and other artifacts from the Glunz collection.
And this being attached to a classic wine shop, there will be, of course, plenty of wine. Glunz said the wine offerings will change constantly, but will still primarily focus on the small-batch producers they've worked with over the years. They'll also invite winemakers in often for special dinners where guests can mingle with the winemakers.
In general, Glunz said they want the Glunz Tavern to be a place where locals want to come a few nights a week, but that can also attract tourists due to the Glunz's Chicago history. "It'll be a place people will really enjoy being," she said. "It's not so much coming to be seen as much as it is coming to enjoy who you're with."