If the rest of the area surrounding Wrigley Field can get a facelift, why can’t one of the neighborhood’s former icons get one, too? Starting today, The Alley — the store that sells punk and goth clothing and other items — is serving Dark Matter coffee, waffle pops, and pizza slices at its new location at 3221 N. Clark Street. That’s right across the street from the store’s iconic original spot and a few blocks south of the home of the Cubs. Chicagoans should recall that The Alley closed in January 2016 after 40 years of selling band patches, leather coats, and counter-culture gear.
Alley owner Mark Thomas has partnered with Michael Markellos on the new location, now known as The Alley 1776. The retail portion of the two-floor space had been open since August 2017 and they’ve waited for business to stabilize and to secure permits before starting food service. While Thomas has experience on the merchandise side, he recruited Markellos for the food. Markellos runs Philly’s Best and Gyro-Mena, both around the block just west of Belmont and Clark. Online vendors have cut into profits for brick-and-mortar stores. That rare sticker or pin that fans hunted for in The Alley’s heyday in the ‘80s and ‘90s is now more easily found thanks to the Internet. That meant The Alley needed an additional hook to get customers in the doors: food and drink. They’ll also be serving alcohol, though Markellos wants to stress that they’re not running the space like a bar.
The first floor features a coffee counter where they’ll serve drinks from Dark Matter and specialty pizza slices. The crust and sauce will familiar to anyone who’s noshed on a slice from Philly’s best, but The Alley is serving different topping combos. Markellos is keen on a new item: waffle pops. These are liege waffles have a popsicle stick stuck through them and come drizzled with frosting, fruits, or cereals. They’re also named after Addams Family characters. They also have sandwiches, breakfast pizzas, and pastries.
Take a tour through the space below. After eight months of operations, The Alley 1776 is finally serving food and drinks.
The Alley 1776, 3221 N. Clark Street, open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for the first week; afterward regular hours will be 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.