Chicago’s bar industry has lost a titan. Donnie Kruse, the co-owner of Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap in Lincoln Park and an investor in the shuttered Melvin B’s Truck Stop in the Gold Coast, has died. Kruse hobnobbed with celebrities, turning Stanley’s into a hotspot for athletes, musicians, and those working in the food and beverage sector.
Kruse—a native of Chicago’s South Side—along with partners Jack Binyon and Jeff Kalish, took over the space at Armitage, Sedgwick, and Lincoln, a space that once housed a restaurant named after Jim McMahon, the Bears quarterback on the 1985 Super Bowl-winning team. The trio converted the restaurant into Stanley’s, a place which still draws lines on Friday and Saturday nights. He developed connections across all industries. An example of his impact was how the Chicago Cubs mourned his loss on Tuesday on Wrigley Field’s iconic marquee.
There was also Melvin B’s, the popular outdoor bar where patrons would people watch near Rush and Division streets. The bar closed in 2007 and became the Cedar Hotel for a spell. Boka Restaurant Group is now part of the development plans at the site. Kruse also owned BB’s, a now-shuttered bar on Hubbard Street in River North.
Hospitality was central to Kruse’s ethos, something that staffers and customers alike appreciated. He used the same finesse when serving celebrities, and grew many friendships with famous people. The bar’s proximity to Second City in Old Town drew performers such as Chris Farley inside. The general public is using social media to share stories via #ThankYouDonnieKruse. Chicago-area native John Cusack also shared his thoughts on Kruse’s death via Twitter.
Donnie Kruse never once looked down on another human - saw the best in everyone -brought so many together - RIP pic.twitter.com/752haUPLF3— John Cusack (@johncusack) March 29, 2017
Funeral information wasn’t immediately available, but this post will be updated once that becomes available. Kruse was a beloved figured in the industry, one who even inspired song. Check out local singer/songwriter Michael McDermott’s tribute to Kruse. RIP.