After 10 years, Citizen Bar is closing in River North, as co-owner Danny McCambridge said its last night will be on Sunday. The bar, which maintained an every-man atmosphere, drew crowds due to a unique rooftop. But developers threatened that view with their plans to construct seven-story condo buildings on both sides of the bar.
Four friends opened the bar in April 2006. A decade later, weddings and children left ownership in a different place. They’re going to sell the bar to the developers.
"You don’t see us in the bar enjoying it the way we used to," McCambridge said. "It’s a good chapter to end."
Citizen wasn’t a place that would bar a patron for wearing designer sweatpants. Women could wear tank tops and men could wear sneakers. The "come as you are" atmosphere was something very important to the ownership.
Over the last decade, the area southwest of Chicago and Orleans has changed as the fading shadow of nearby Cabrini-Green kept developers away with the public housing project scaring them. McCambridge said he and his trio of friends made a bet on the area. He noted that Citizen Bar wasn’t the first to open in the area as Spy Bar and Sound Bar predate them.
The bar was also the River North home to the University of Notre Dame Chicago alumni club. That affiliation was something McCambridge pursued heavily. After Citizen’s closure, there are still more than enough River North bars to accommodate Golden Domer football fans.
Over the years, one day stuck out to McCambridge. St. Patrick’s Day 2012 was unseasonably warm in Chicago with temps hitting in the 80-degree range. Citizen ran out of beer: "It was probably the best day in Chicago bar history," McCambridge said.