Wrigleyville will get its own larger version of what may be Chicago’s most-popular bar and eatery this spring. Big Star Wrigleyville — across the street from Wrigley Field in the game-changing Hotel Zachary at 3640 N. Clark Street — will give Cubs fans, locals, tourists, and hotel guests two floors and a large patio full of tacos, whiskey, beer, honky tonk and more that continuously packs One Off Hospitality Group’s original Wicker Park icon. The opening is slated for early April, in time for the Cubs’ home opener, according to a news release.
At two floors and 383 seats, the Wrigley space is much larger than the original. And despite it being new construction, ownership is implementing many of the features the Wicker Park space is known for, including the light-up “tacos” sign, a similar honky-tonk playlist, and most notably a large outdoor space with seating for 87 people and views of the ballpark.
The food and drink will also be similar to the original, so expect tacos, queso fundido, guacamole, margaritas, cheap and craft beer, and a large bourbon selection. It will also have a take-out window, a popular feature at the Wicker Park location.
Besides the size, there are a few differences in the Wrigley spot. Most notable of these is a space for live music, as the release states that the location will “double as a performance venue.” The second floor, another notable difference, will be available for private events.
Big Star is just one of many changes in the transformation of Wrigleyville, spearheaded by Cubs’ ownership the Ricketts family. Many of the longtime businesses and sports bars have been pushed out by rising rents or by new development, of which the Hotel Zachary — where Big Star Wrigley is located — is arguably the most prominent. Other acclaimed restaurateurs are setting up outlets in the hotel or have opened in the Park at Wrigley adjacent to the stadium, including multiple spots from Matthias Merges, Shake Shack, Four Corners Tavern Group, the Fifty/50 Group, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and 4 Star Restaurant Group. Places that have closed or been forced out by new development include Goose Island Wrigleyville, Red Ivy, Mullen’s on Clark, Salt & Pepper Diner, Bar Louie, Cassava, Bacci Pizza, the Starbucks on Addison Street, Myron Mixon’s Smokeshow Barbecue, and maybe even the Taco Bell on Addison Street.
Many longtime fans and locals miss the older places that are now gone but many of the changes, which took a leap forward last season, have been well received. The Cubs’ World Series victory in 2016 only made the area even more of a destination under even more of a national spotlight, and more and more visitors and residents are interested in higher-quality food and drink options beyond the glut of sports bars the neighborhood had long been known for. Many of the new spots, including the events in the Park at Wrigley, have made the neighborhood more of a year-round destination rather than just during baseball season.
Adding a larger Big Star — perhaps the busiest bar and eatery in Chicago — should only make the area more of a destination. Will the new location prove as popular with the much different demographic near Wrigley Field than near the “hipster highway” in Wicker Park? Start to find out the answer in April.