A new mini-golf bar is coming to Wicker Park in the space formerly occupied by the Silver Room pop-up with nine holes and plenty of drinks. Owners and college friends Austin DeLonge and Nick Jenkins are planning to open their first bar, the Big Mini, at 1302 N. Milwaukee Avenue in early 2020, they said in an interview.
The pair applied for a liquor license this month and signed a lease for the 5,000 square-foot space, which will undergo construction at the end of November. In the meantime, they’re designing and building holes in Jenkins’ garage. They plan to create an interchangeable set of holes that they can later rearrange for a new challenge to keep patrons coming back. Current plans call for a 30-foot bar with room for lounging, but owners hope that drinkers and players will mingle in the integrated space instead of lingering by the bar itself.
Bar offerings are still in the design phase, but DeLonge and Jenkins say that they plan to serve draft beer from a rotating selection of Chicago breweries as well as tap cocktails and wine. The space won’t contain a kitchen so food selections will be limited to bar snacks. The cocktail list will consist of “fun drinks that remind you of being on a golf course with friends,” said DeLonge. “Mini golf is thought of as an outdoor activity,” Jenkins added. “We want the feeling inside the bar to be lively and reminiscent of those days in the summer.”
Golf bars and restaurants are popping up with increasing frequency in Chicago, though the Big Mini may be the first bar solely dedicated to mini golf. Virtual golfing venues TopGolf Swing Suite in downtown Aster Hall and the Chicago Athletic Association hotel have recently opened, and four additional suburban TopGolf spots exist too. Drive Shack, a growing chain of golf ranges with food and beverage menus, has announced plans to open a Bucktown location. Lucky Strike Entertainment runs video game arcade/restaurant FTW in Streeterville with a range of games that include mini golf. Emporium Arcade Bar operated a mini-golf pop-up in Logan Square last summer, and the team behind the Jack’s Pumpkin Nights popup on North Elston Avenue held a pop-up this July with mini golf and go-karts called “Neon Summer.”
Though they’ve never owned a bar before, both owners of the Big Mini have a little insight into the beer business: Last year, Jenkins’ production company One City Films created a documentary, F*** Your Hair: The Latin-Owned Brewery that Dumped Trump, chronicling 5 Rabbit Cerveceria’s decision to sever business ties to then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, as well as the subsequent fallout. DeLonge assisted as a camera operator. They also come with some hospitality experience, having worked as bussers, barbacks, waiters, and bartenders during and after college.
The Big Mini is still in early planning stages in Wicker Park, so stay tuned for more news. Block Club Chicago first reported this story.