A private equity firm has purchased Chicago’s legendary Second City, the comedy club and theater that launched the careers of stars like John Candy, Jordan Peele, and Amy Poehler. The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated all businesses that rely on live performance, including theater and comedy. New ownership means a fresh start for two restaurants and one bar that neighbor the Old Town club.
New owner ZMC is run by Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two, the maker of popular video games including Grand Theft Auto, the NBA2K series, and Red Dead Redemption. The sale comes eight months after former Second City co-owner Andrew Alexander departed amid allegations that he allowed institutionalized racism to take root in the theater. ZMC leadership obliquely referenced the critiques leveled at Second City, telling NBC Chicago that the brand will prioritize diversity and “elevat[ing] all voices.”
Scott Weiner, co-founder of Fifty/50 Restaurant Group, operates rooftop bar Utopian Tailgate and a ground-floor location of Roots Handmade Pizza in the building at North and Wells. Weiner says he looks forward to working with management and praised Zelnick’s acumen, saying that the investment is good for Chicago and the neighborhood. Fifty/50 plans to stay aligned with the comedy club, as Weiner has previously said he has an agreement to operate a venue at Second City’s Toronto location.
It remains to be seen how the shift will impact 1959, the only restaurant in the Second City building that was included in the overall sale.
- Second City Restaurants Await New Owners as Comedy Club Goes On Sale [ECHI]
- Second City Purchased by Private Equity Firm [NBC Chicago]
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