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Updated: Geek Bar Hits Fundraising Goal as Fans Rescue Bar From 'Immediate Danger'

The bar's saga continues after raising more than $11,500.

Geek Bar Chicago
Geek Bar Chicago
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.

Update: Added comments from Geek Bar owner at end of post.

Between comic books, rare collectibles (toys) and cosplay, geeks may have some semblance of disposable income. That could explain Geek Bar reaching the fundraising goal owner David Zoltan set last month to prevent the Wicker Park bar/restaurant from closing. As of Monday morning, Geek Bar's raised $11,722, just eclipsing the $11,500 goal stated on the website.

Perhaps the damsel's been saved, as Zoltan wrote via GoFundMe that the bar is "out of immediate danger." But in this Reader post, not all's well in geekdom. A fleet of employees quit last month after bounced paychecks and cancelled health insurance. Zoltan has acknowledged he's struggled at paying the bills and some checks were bounced, and in a GoFundMe update, wrote that they've re-issued checks thanks to the successful crowdfunding. But via the Reader, some ex-employees wonder if the bar will ever pull itself out of financial oblivion and say they aren't happy that the restaurant/bar is supposedly being treated secondary to the cultural aspect. Zoltan wants to develop a website and brand similar to Nerdist, says one ex-employee, filling the restaurant's site with sci-fi and geek-related content.

Geek Bar's saga is well documented, as originally Zoltan planned to open the large geek-themed bar/restaurant in Lincoln Park. When that plan snarled, he opted for a temporary location in Wicker Park that would serve as a preview to what would come at the permanent spot. As the Lincoln Park deal got worse in time, Zoltan altered his plans to attempt to make the Wicker Park beta location Geek Bar's permanent home.

Does the new transfusion of cash place Geek Bar on more stable ground? Beyond the $11,500 goal, Zoltan has said he'd like to raise a $75,000 for reserves so he wouldn't have to ask customers for money again. This isn't the end of this story arc, so stay tuned for what happens next.

Update: Zoltan wrote and called the Reader story "incredibly unfortunate" and that it wasn't surprising former employees are disgruntled. The fund-raising campaign has attracted new investors and they've made staffing and other operational changes to prevent further fiscal problems:

We didn't have a huge restaurant group behind us. We didn't have giant piles of money to backstop us. We put what we did raise into a project we had every reason to believe would be successful, and in the end, we survived multiple points along the way that would have destroyed other companies in this or any other industry.

Geek Bar Beta

1941 W North Ava, Chicago, IL 60622 (773) 687-9824 Visit Website