After 35 years of college sports, bar food, and drinks until 4 a.m., Gamekeepers Tavern & Grill has closed at the corner of Lincoln, Sedgwick, and Armitage. The bar’s last night was Saturday at 345 W. Armitage Avenue in Lincoln Park. The closure leaves another high-profile vacancy at the six-corner intersection which saw Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap close last year after 25 years.
The intersection was once bustling hub of nightlife, but the demographics have changed. Real estate agents are predicting that a more family-friendly business is more likely to flourish in the area. Gamekeepers management posted a Facebook message over the weekend and blamed increasing rents and taxes on the decision to close. The landlord had elected not to extend the bar’s lease.
Michael Weber of @Properties Commercial is working on listing the Gamekeepers property. He has a few listings in the neighborhood on Lincoln Avenue including Clarke’s and Racine Plumbing. Gamekeepers had a late-night liquor license allowing alcohol service until 4 a.m. The owners are letting that license expire, which will make the space better suited for a family-friendly spot. A future tenant will also have to invest in the property. Gamekeepers’ food menu, a relic of ‘90s sports bars, just couldn’t compete with gastropubs. The menu and space need renovations to compete with other more modern spots.
“I mean, it had been Gamekeepers for 30 or some years,” Weber said. “They didn’t really update it much throughout the years.”
Though bars, under the right operator, could find success, Weber sees restaurants as more viable along Lincoln Avenue. Across the street, Stanley’s has been vacant for a year. Both spaces used to be part of a boisterous Lincoln Park intersection that probably peaked while the Chicago Bulls were winning championships in the mid-’90s. Past bars in the area included Jim McMahon’s and Ultimate Sports Bar & Grill.
“We’re looking for a proven restaurant operator who can appeal to the family-friendly neighborhood, while also attracting clientele from across the city based on the quality of their food and beverage program,” said Reuben Rischall, senior vice president for Metro Commercial Real Estate. Metro is the listing agency for the Stanley’s space.
Up the street, work continues on Lincoln Common, a development on the former Children’s Memorial Hospital site, that could redefine the neighborhood. There’s still plenty of interest in the area.
“There’s a lot of money in the area now and a lot of the young people are hanging in different neighborhoods, too,” Weber said.