Lincoln Park will soon get one of the city’s best sports bars back. Racine Plumbing, which closed in April after nine years at 2642 N. Lincoln Avenue, is slated to reopen in around two or three weeks. New owner John Donnelly, who also owns Lucky’s Sandwich Company and the Sandlot in Wrigleyville, plans to reopen the bar and restaurant with an updated food menu, beer list, and a new chef by early September.
Racine Plumbing had built a large customer base over the years, partly due to its reputation as one of the very few bars in Chicago to cater to New York sports fans. The bar, which is named for A.L. Racine’s West Loop plumbing business that was founded in 1892, was also popular with Notre Dame fans, as well as for its solid bar food and beer list. Its wings and variety of burgers were specialties, which Donnelly doesn’t take lightly. “Even if it’s burgers and fries it has to be really good burgers and fries,” he says.
The food and beer selections will change some when Racine Plumbing reopens, but Donnelly says patrons should still expect quality. Donnelly is bringing on a new chef — Matthew Brems, formerly of Bottleneck Management (Old Town Pour House, Sweetwater, South Branch) — who will finalize a more “elevated” food menu soon. Every beer handle in the bar will now be craft, Donnelly says, and “as local as we can do.”
Racine Plumbing’s space, which is highlighted by a large and bright back room with a second bar, skylights and light wood paneling and exposed brick that make it feel warmer in the winter, will remain mostly the same. “There may be some new artwork on the walls, but not anything drastic,” he says.
As is the case with many Wrigleyville establishments, Donnelly’s other bars have downtime in the winter during the Cubs’ offseason. “One day I got to start looking for places that would give me more winter business,” he says, “and my [real estate] agent called me the next day [about Racing Plumbing] and it all went from there. It’s a really good winter bar.” That, and the fact that Donnelly is a Connecticut native and a New York sports fan himself, made Racine Plumbing a perfect fit.
Expect the reopening within three weeks, when Donnelly hopes “to get the regulars back in there.”