[Photos: Timothy Hiatt]
Get ready for much more beer and sports inside Union Station next week. After opening three new beer stands inside the station last month, a three-level sports bar, The Junction, will be unveiled on Monday to provide a new destination for the 350,000 commuters a week, as well as neighborhood residents.
The privately-funded bar will offer 28 craft and domestic draft pours, 50 bottles and cans, cocktails, carry-out service, and 19 high-definition TVs showing sports from around the world.
Each level will have a different sports theme and its own bar. The ground floor features a "ticket bar" reminiscent of ticket windows at a stadium for carry-out and quick service. Upstairs is the "Skybox", where five lighted boxes for each Chicago team break up the room. They're calling the 100-seat downstairs level the "Hall of Fame" area; it's decorated with 18 vignettes of Chicago Hall-of-Famers, has two wings separated by a center bar, and will be available for private events.
Food will be available from other parts of the station right away, and Union Station was awarded the lease for the adjacent space and is planning to open a restaurant in the spring that will serve bar food.
The Junction, in a former Snuggery location, is the hospitality centerpiece of the Union Station facelift. Jim Van Buskirk, the station's GM, expects to draw business from the neighborhood as well as travelers, calling the near West Loop a "dead zone for sports bars." Cheap prices should help, including $4 premium martinis and $3 Bud and Bud Lights.
The Junction will be open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on weekdays and 12-8 p.m. on weekends when it launches on Jan. 27.