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Pops For Champagne Plans to Burst Into Wicker Park With Spanish Wine Bar

Bom Bolla will focus on Cava and could open first quarter 2015.

Rendering: Loopnet
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The team behind Pops For Champagne is gunning to open a new Spanish wine bar mid- to late-first quarter next year in Wicker Park.

The project's name, Bom Bolla, is derived from the Catalonian word, bombolla, which means "bubble." W. Craig Cooper, beverage director at Pops, is the driving force behind the new concept which will focus on Cava, a Spanish sparkling wine that's seen rising popularity and quality in the recent years, said Cooper, who also vows Bom Bolla will have the largest selection of Cava in the country. Pops is known for educating the general public on sparking wines, and they've had been kicking the idea over for Bom Bolla for about two years.

"I've seen it in the last five years: A stream of higher quality, much more interesting wines were coming into the market, and my list was getting bigger and bigger in [the Cava] category," Cooper said. "I realized I could just do a Cava bar, I could just do a place focusing on Spanish sparkling wine."

Cooper's trips to Barcelona inspired him, and he hopes to take the best ideas from European establishments and incorporate them into a homespun bar with a Chicago feel. The Pops team applied for a liquor license at 4,350-square-foot building at 1501 N. Milwaukee Ave., across the street from the Wicker Park iteration of Rick Bayless' Xoco.

The focus will be on the beverages. Cooper said they've hired a chef, but aren't yet ready to dish details on the menu. The bar will initially open with one level, but may expand in the two-story building. Management is still making decisions on the decor.

"We're not trying to make it EPCOT City or EPCOT pavilion, you know -- there won't be flamenco music and bulls with matadors," Cooper said.

The building is 130 years old and Bom Bolla will rent the entire building, according to DNAinfo. There's also a rooftop deck.

Pops celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, and the team needed something new to tackle. Prior to moving to its current State Street location in 2006, Pops operated at 2934 N. Sheffield Ave. where the Kirkwood now stands. Next door on Sheffield, Pops also owned Starbar, a bar aimed at a younger crowd or, as Cooper described it "a cheaper alternative to Pops." Pops has hosted live music, however Cooper said there are no plans for bands at Bom Bolla. There will be no televisions inside.

"We want a place that's accessible as possible, even though our focus is going to be on a semi-premium sparkling wine, if you want to pop in because you like the looks of the place and get a $5 draft beer, that's going to be able to happen for you," Cooper said.