Surprise — Carol’s Pub, the beloved honky tonk dive bar that closed two years ago in Uptown — is reopening tonight. Originally, the new ownership said the bar, which has gone through an extensive remodel, would reopen on Thursday. Owner Ed Warm confirmed the new plan to debut at 5 p.m. on Tuesday at 4659 N. Clark Street.
Tonight’s opening is a short one, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. They’ll be closed on Wednesday and go into full opening mode on Thursday, Warm said. Warm is an influential country music promoter who also owns Joe’s on Weed in Lincoln Park and its suburban counterpart, Joe’s Live in Rosemont. He feels Chicago holds an underrated place in the history of country music. When Carol’s closed, he felt a responsibility to take the torch, to ensure Carol’s continued to host live music. If he didn’t purchase the space, he feared that developers would turn the historic building into condos. Previous ownership sold the bar to get out of debt.
Warm added a new sound system and took out a few seats along the west wall and replaced that with a sound booth. Crews rebuilt the warping wall and added bay windows that swing out to Clark Street. The bar will actually be open on weekend afternoons when the windows could be open. Carol’s old windows are now wall decorations, a reminder of the space’s history.
There are a few types of people who went to Carol’s, a 45-year-old bar that was run by Carol Harris. The bar retains a late-night liquor license where it can serve booze until 4 a.m. most days. Those wanting another drink after last call on the North Side often headed to Carol’s.
Then there were customers who enjoyed the bands which played the stage. Normally, management would clear out the tables so customers could dance. Warm said he’s not sure how many customers will actually dance, so they’ll wait and see how often they’ll move seating. Diamondback, a band that performs country covers — for all intents and purposes, the house band — will play at the bar on Friday night. Griffin Crowder will perform a 7 p.m. set on Tuesday opening night. Expect a mix of local bands and the occasional national touring act to grace the stage.
Then there’s the regulars around Uptown who don’t want a fancy cocktail and preferred a bottled, domestic beer without hoopla. The new Carol’s will still stock Miller Lite and others of that ilk, but it’ll also have craft brews on tap using a new draft system. Warm also rebuilt the kitchen which will serve burgers and sausages. He hired a cook who worked at Fatso’s Last Stand, a popular hot dog stand in Ukrainian Village, to oversee Carol’s new food.
There are skeptics who don’t trust the remodeling. Warm is adamant that he didn’t change the bar’s character. He just restored and modernized so future generations can appreciate what regulars did for decades. There’s no pool table: “All they’re good for is starting fights,” Warm said. They’ve replaced it with Big Buck Hunter. Yes, the bathrooms have also been redone.
Warm said he understands the bar’s old regulars may not trust the changes. But he’s not trying to insert River North into Uptown. Crews are working up until opening time tonight to ensure the bar’s ready for the public. Clear out those calendars for an early Christmas present: Carol’s Pub reopens tonight in Uptown.
Carol’s Pub, 4659 N. Clark Street, opening hours will adjust, but they’ll close at 4 a.m. daily, and at 5 a.m. on Sunday.