After 17 years of 4 a.m. bar hijinks along Clark Street, Trace is closing in Wrigleyville. It won’t happen immediately, but Bottleneck Management (Boundary in Wicker Park, Howells & Hood off the Mag Mile), has sold its first bar. The new owners, Last Call Tavern Group (Full Shilling in Wrigleyville, Butcher’s Tap in Lakeview), will run Trace through the end of the Cubs season at 3714 N. Clark Street. They’ll then close Trace with the intentions of opening a new bar by the end of year, according to a news release.
Wrigleyville’s transformation has been well documented, as new construction has created new restaurants such as the ones inside the Hotel Zachary across the street from the stadium. That was a factor for selling, said Bottleneck’s Jason Akemann, but it wasn’t the driver. Bottleneck wants to continue to grow its national presence, especially with City Works. City Works is a bar and restaurant that’s expanded to seven locations since 2016. It’s already in Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami, D.C.-area, and Pittsburgh. Bottleneck also has plans for Boston, Buffalo, another in D.C. and a trio in the suburbs. A Schaumburg location should open in March, while locations in Vernon Hills and Wheeling should arrive next year.
“We couldn’t give [Trace] the attention it deserves,” Akemann said.
But Trace was Bottleneck’s first, and selling the bar closes a chapter in the company’s history. The group has grown from one bar to 25 in 17 years.
“Because it’s the first, it will always hold a special place in my heart,” Akemann said.
Trace was a rare bar in Wrigleyville that had a 4 a.m. late-liquor license. Akemann didn’t know what Last Call planned to do with the space. A Last Call rep didn’t respond to a request for details. So stay tuned.