It’s official, as confirmed by a liquor license application: the West Loop’s getting a new jazz club-like music venue that will serve food and drink from the estate of Jerry Garcia, the late guitarist for the Grateful Dead. Concert promoter Peter Shapiro, who also owns Brooklyn Bowl in New York, is teaming up with the estate to bring Garcia’s to the West Loop inside the former Wishbone space at 1001 W. Washington Boulevard. Shapiro told Eater that Garcia’s could open in early 2020.
“We’re moving along,” Shapiro said. “We’re very excited about how the plans are coming together.”
Garcia’s will be a seated venue and host a diverse lineup of musicians. Patrons will be able to eat and drink at their tables while nationally touring artists perform. Shapiro gushed about the layout, but he didn’t want to share details. He wants to build a unique venue that will represent Garcia’s spirit, showcasing food, drink, and art that were important to the singer. Garcia died in 1995. His bandmates played a series of shows in 2015 in Chicago to commemorate the legendary jam band’s 50th anniversary. Shapiro put those Fare The Well concerts together. He graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston, and has other Chicago ties. He has fondness for the area: “Chicago is the heart of the country,” Shapiro said.
It’s still early, so Shapiro didn’t share much about what food Garcia’s may serve. He did say Garcia’s will be a place where customers will be able to eat full meals, not just bar snacks. He’s also working on a wine list with wines from vineyards near music venues where the Dead performed. He mentioned Alpine Valley Music Theater in Elkhorn, Wisconsin; and a show in Ithaca, New York — home of Cornell University. Tom Bailey, the general manager of the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York, will be managing Garcia’s, Shapiro said. Capital Theatre is another historic venue and another of Shapiro’s venues.
Shapiro repeatedly said how excited he is to try something different. That should be good news for West Loopers who have seen real estate prices skyrocket. This makes it a difficult climate for independent restaurants to find success. While the former tenants of the Garcia’s space, Wishbone, had a strong relationship with its landlord and were able to find a nearby restaurant space to relocate, not everyone has those connections. The trend is seeing those restaurants close to make room for condos. Restaurant companies with deep pockets are also finding homes in the West Loop, including McDonald’s. It lends to a potentially homogeneous atmosphere that many West Loop residents worry about.
Garcia’s isn’t the first attempt Shapiro has made to open a music venue in Chicago. Plans to bring Brooklyn Bowl fizzled for Fulton Market. The plan for Garcia’s is further along. Shapiro also feels Garcia’s is even a better fit for the city: “It’s a great place for this to happen,” he said.
“It’s just a large puzzle to put together with many, many pieces,” Shapiro added. “I’m excited to complete the puzzle.”
Stay tuned for updates as more information arrives.