The husband-and-wife team behind bustling bar A.J. Hudson’s Public House on Grace and Ashland have a new cocktail spot up their sleeves. The Dandy Crown, from spouses Julia Shell and Jamie Hale, should open in mid-December in a vintage brick two-story standalone building in River West. Once winter retreats, they’ll open a sizable beer garden beside the restaurant.
“It’s first and foremost a neighborhood bar,” Shell said. “We want it to be accessible to everyone.”
Native Chicagoan and general manager Sarah Syman (the Drawing Room, the Drifter, Beatnik) is in the midst of developing a cocktail list that highlights classic drinks and creative new options, and drinkers can also expect wines and ciders, along with six draft beers and 25 canned and bottled options. Shell calls the bar a “cocktail tavern,” and plans to roll out a limited selection of light food items in January or February.
Shell and English-born Hale own the Dandy Crown building at 694 N. Milwaukee Avenue and hope to bring a luxurious yet unstuffy feel to the space, or as Shell terms it, “laid-back luxe.” The first floor, decked out in shades of dark blue, will house a bar, fireplace, and assorted low-level chairs and couches for lounging, while the red and maroon-hued second floor includes a second bar and private event space. The interior seats 90, and the outdoor beer garden will add around 130 chairs come spring. Music is important to Shell, who promises a soundtrack featuring Motown, blues, soul, and garage rock, as well as contemporary artists who evoke the spirit of ‘60s-era music.
The couple are well acquainted with Chicago’s storied bar culture and have made their own mark with A.J. Hudson’s, which is widely regarded as one of the city’s best international soccer bars. They renamed the bar, founded under the name Ginger’s Ale House in 1992, after their children Anais Jillian and Hudson in 2011. Hale also helped found soccer bar the Globe Pub in North Center, but is no longer involved with the business. The Dandy Crown sits between the Chicago and Grand avenue strips of North Milwaukee Avenue, taking over the space that previously housed 694 Wine & Spirits.
Shell said she anticipates a grand opening around December 14 since the bar has already booked a party for the next day, so stay tuned for more news.
Correction: November 26, 2019, 5:17 p.m. This article was changed to show that Jamie Hale is no longer associated with the Globe Pub.