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Stanley’s Tap, Closed Since 2018, to Return as College Basketball Pop-Up

The event was cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Illinois
This pop-up could attract Big Ten fans.
Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: A rep sent an email on Thursday afternoon writing that organizers were cancelling this event due to concerns about the novel coronavirus.

Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap, a Lincoln Park fixture that closed two years ago, will briefly return as a pop up this month during the first weekend of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, according to a rep. Organizers hope to make it a March Madness destination with music from DJs who performed at Stanley’s in its heyday.

Stanley’s closed in 2018 after 25 years in Lincoln Park, a year after the death of co-owner and South Side native Donnie Kruse. Regarded as a local bar industry titan, Krause was known for cultivating relationships with everyday customers and celebrities, including Chicago-area native John Cusack.

A corner bar with an awning reading “Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap.”
Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap

The space has remained vacant for the last two years. Both Stanley’s and another sport bar that lasted 35 years on the opposite corner — Gamekeeper’s — have failed to attract tenants on what’s turned into a sleepy Lincoln Park intersection of Lincoln, Armitage, and Sedgwick. Gamekeeper’s closed in April 2019.

Stanley’s closure was a result of a dispute with the landlord who wouldn’t extend the venue’s lease, ownership wrote at the time. Prior to Stanley’s opening in 1993, the space was occupied by Jim McMahon’s, a bar and restaurant co-owned by the former Chicago Bears quarterback and 1985 Super Bowl champion.

This is pop-up is unusual, as most are centered around pop-culture nostalgia. It’s being hosted by Graduate Hotels, the developer that helped restore the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel. Graduate also runs hotels near the campuses of many Big Ten colleges, including Madison, Wisconsin; Lincoln, Nebraska; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Columbus, Ohio. An Evanston location near Northwestern University is planned for a fall opening, according to the hotel’s website. March Madness provides a good opportunity for the company to market itself to alumni. Organizers are also making repairs to the space. That could make the property attractive to prospective tenants. One of the event’s sponsors is Big Ten Network.

The the pop-up is named “Rebound.” Tickets cost $20 and will be available exclusively at the door. The price includes cover entry, two drinks, and sports-friendly snacks like hot pretzels, popcorn, and walking tacos. Additional drink tickets will be $5, available by credit card only. A portion of proceeds will go to local nonprofit Camp Out for Kids, which raises money to help send children from underserved communities to summer camp.

Rebound, Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap pop-up, 1970 N. Lincoln Avenue, Open 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21.

Stanley's Kitchen & Tap

1970 N Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60614 312 642 0007 Visit Website