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A New York-Inspired Cocktail Bar Will Replace Avondale’s Orbit Room

Ludlow Liquors, from two former Eater Award winners, should soon open

Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue sit together at Estereo in Logan Square.
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The Orbit Room in Avondale has been slumbering since New Year’s Eve when the ownership team of Wade McElroy and Jeff Donahue closed the decade-old bar/restaurant. McElroy and Donahue, respected barmen and former Eater Award winners who helped Heisler Hospitality develop popular cocktail bars Sportsman’s Club and Estereo, had taken over The Orbit Room in August with the plan to eventually open a new bar in its place. The duo has now revealed what they’re working on: Ludlow Liquors could open by the end of the month at 2959 N. California Avenue.

McElroy and Donahue want to make the space their own with Ludlow. While The Orbit Room had a tiki vibe, the new bar’s feel is inspired by Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Stirred cocktails will be available by the ounce. This allows customers to try more drinks. Ownership has a strong reputation for strong and creative drinks and that should continue at Ludlow with fancy artisanal ice for cocktails and garnishes. They’ll also have a focus on whiskey and serve draft punches and cheap beer. The Orbit Room served food, but there’s no word if its replacement will offer any.

The bar’s patio is an asset that Ludlow will continue to use. Dogs will be welcome outside. They’ll also have DJs spinning vinyl on most days. Ownership has talked about injecting some new energy into the space.

While ownership has a successful pedigree, some locals worry about the neighborhood merely becoming an extension of Logan Square where trendy bars and restaurants are aplenty. New construction in Avondale is changing the once modest neighborhood. Kuma’s Corner, Honey Butter Fried Chicken, and Parachute were the lynchpins in area. Now it’s joined by Sleeping Village, a new beer/cider bar with live music from the ownership behind The Whistler in Logan Square that opened last week. The ownership of Reed’s Local opened up a restaurant/lounge called B’el Bar + Kitchen. The Dönermen food truck debuted a brick and mortar location. Pisolino serves rustic Italian fare. The Beer Temple craft beer store moved to a new location that includes a bar. While not all these openings were flashy, they’ve all happened in less than two years.

The Tribune first reported the news on Ludlow. McElroy and Donahue operate Sportsman’s Club in Ukrainian Village and Estereo in Logan Square in partnership with Heisler Hospitality, the restaurant/bar company behind Bad Hunter, Prairie School, and more. The Trib reported that Ludlow is separate from that partnership, as it falls under McElroy and Donahue’s company — Leisure Activities. However, Heisler co-founder Kevin Heisner and his team is designing Ludlow’s interiors. Heisner has played a vital role in the design of several Heisler projects.

Ludlow Liquors

2959 North California Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 754-7492 Visit Website