Links Taproom is back as the Wicker Park beer bar is reopening tonight. The bar’s been closed since late December after plumbing issues forced a city-mandated shutdown. It’s been a touchy situation as Links owners negotiated with its building landlord over the repairs.
Last month, Links released a statement hoping to quell fears that the bar wouldn’t reopen. A broken 75-year-old plumbing line under the bar was the cause of the closure. It was affecting Links’s neighbors. There were reports of a foul odor that affected other nearby businesses including the Dr. Marten’s Store at 1561 N. Milwaukee Avenue.
“It’s been a long several weeks,” Links owner Mike Quinlan said on Friday.
Quinlan reiterated that the plumbing issue had nothing to do with anything his staff had done. A clay pipe under the bar had broke and needed to be replaced. It wasn’t a simple fix either. At first, Quinlan felt their plumbing crew could quickly remedy the problem. But the first attempt failed in January. They called another company which eventually installed a new cast iron plumbing line. Links also had to come to an agreement with its landlord over the best way to fix the problem, and that also kept the bar closed longer than anticipated, Quinlan said.
The smell never affected Links, Quinlan said, and when customers walk in the bar on Friday night they won’t notice any changes to the space. They will see a new menu from a new chef. Josh Bushnick, who’s credits include Rodan and Fizz Eatery and Soda Fountain (he appeared on Food Network’s Cutthroat Kitchen and Guy’s Grocery Games), is Links’s new chef. The signature encased meats have new toppings. There’s a deconstructed pierogi (sour cream, Granny Smith apples, green onion) served on a smoked Polish sausage. There’s also the Section 119 fried chicken sandwich. The name’s a Phish reference, in part from the sandwich served by celebrity N.Y. chef David Chang’s Fuku at Madison Square Garden. Phish fans have devoted several message boards over a banner arena ad: “It’s an inside joke for Phish fans,” Quinlan said.
Links will also tap some special beers tonight to celebrate the reopening. The bar reopens at 5 p.m. and marks a return for a Wicker Park favorite.