Wrigleyville’s makeover continues as noted chef/restaurateur Matthias Merges revealed more details — including the name — of his upcoming bar across from Wrigley Field. Named after Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown, an early 20th Century pitcher for the Cubs, Mordecai should be ready for April 9: Opening Day at Wrigley. The two-level cocktail bar’s located in a 3,000-square-foot space at the under-construction Hotel Zachary, just across the street from the stadium at 3630 N. Clark Street.
Merges is a chef who worked with famed chef Charlie Trotter and has gone on to open restaurants including the Japanese-influenced Yusho and Old Irving Brewery, a craft brewpub. He most recently teamed up with celebrity chef Graham Elliot on a West Loop bar/restaurant, Gideon Sweet. Fans of Merges should look at his Logan Square cocktail bar, Billy Sunday, for a preview on what to expect in Wrigleyville — small bites and composed cocktails. Merges promises to cater to drinkers who want classic drinks or refined spirits. A news release touts a large collection of rare and vintage spirits.
The Hotel Zachary will also include a location of Big Star (the Wicker Park taco spot) and The Smoke Daddy (the Wicker Park barbecue). When Merges first released news that he was planning a bar inside the hotel, he likened it to Billy Sunday.
“We are inspired by the strong cocktail culture and dedication to genuine hospitality at Billy Sunday,” Merges wrote via email. “Mordecai will channel Billy’s commitment to well-crafted drinks and quality ingredients, while offering a full menu and a deeper collection of aged spirits, creating an exceptional cocktail experience.”
There’s also a connection between booze and the bar’s name. Seasoned drinkers have long ordered whisky by telling bartenders they’d like “two fingers.” The Tribune pointed out that it would make sense for bar patrons to order their spirits by the finger. Brown had four-and-half fingers on his pitching hand. He lost part of his index finger as a child in a farming accident.
Mordecai is Merges’s Folkart Restaurant Management’s second Wrigleyville bar. Last year, Merges debuted Lucky Dorr, a craft beer nook at The Park at Wrigley. While Lucky Dorr focused on beer and snacks, Mordecai will serve a full menu and feature cocktails. A second-floor will look out to Clark Street. The space is designed by Fc Studio, a firm run by Julie Fisher and Rachel Crowl. The latter is Merges’s wife.
Crews razed the McDonald’s in Wrigleyville to make room for the Hotel Zachary, the second of two buildings constructed by Hickory Street Capital in their effort to redevelop the area around Wrigley Field, a space that now includes an outdoor plaza. The company is owned by the Ricketts family, the owners of the Cubs.