The owners of Dante’s Pizzeria, the N.Y.-style pizza shop with locations in Logan Square and Avondale, are opening a bar. They’re taking over the space at the corner of Augusta and California that most recently housed the Shelby at 2759 W. Augusta Boulevard in Humboldt Park. This Dante’s, which should open this month, is the first location that will serve beer and cocktails and have table service.
It’s a shift in strategy for co-owner Tim Murphy, who also plays bass in Chicago punk band Canadian Rifle. The new bar won’t serve whole pizzas or offer delivery. The location is in the middle of the delivery area for his Logan Square pizzeria and he doesn’t want to cannibalize business. Instead they’ll focus on pizzas by the slice, offering a few select daily specials while also encouraging diners to pick their own toppings.
“It’s definitely more of a bar atmosphere,” Murphy said of the upcoming Humboldt Park spot. “We are encouraging customers to stick around a little bit.”
By not offering delivery, the kitchen staff can also focus on other items like appetizers — fried mushrooms, cheese curds, and mozzarella sticks. Better versions of typical pizzeria food, Murphy said. They’ll also serve more stromboli.
Dante’s is also expanding its vegan options. They haven’t figured which cheese alternative they’ll use — they’re down to three options — but the restaurant wants to offer better meat- and dairy-free options.
Co-owner George Simos was part of the ownership group at the Shelby and Haywood Tavern, the bar that closed late last year before the Shelby opened. He’s hopeful that a pizzeria will work. The Shelby lasted seven months. Haywood lasted two years.
“They were just great spots but just never really took off,” Simos said. “But then you look at what’s here and what’s not. The area’s kind of screaming for what we’re doing.”
They’re looking at five or six house cocktails and draft beer from 12 taps. They’ll have another 30-40 canned and bottled beer options. They aren’t going for anything esoteric, Simos said. Beer naturally goes well with pizza so why complicate things?
The insides have been repainted and a new mural has been added. There also new lighting, tables, and stools. The music will be metal and punk giving the space a new feel.
Simos and Murphy hinted at more openings depending on the success of the new Humboldt Park location. Check back in the coming days for news on the opening date.