After 47 years on Rush Street, Pippin’s Tavern is turning a corner — literally. The Irish pub, which closed in June 2020, will reopen in a much large space — with a kitchen — inside the former Devon Seafood + Steak at 39 E. Chicago Avenue in mid- to late-September. Signage is already up announcing the impending opening.
Devon closed in fall 2019, leaving a large vacancy near the Magnificent Mile. But the chain’s departure left an opportunity for Pippin’s, which — for the first time in its long history — will serve food. Menu highlights include a raw bar, a veal sweetbread corn dog, a fried chicken thigh sandwich, a club sandwich made with shrimp toast, beef heart meatballs, and a peanut butter pie with banana ice cream.
Pippin’s social media went dark during the pandemic, and the Rush Street bar closed without fanfare, leaving the impression that it was done. But behind the scenes, the deal to take over the Devon space was underway. The decision to move was prompted by an inability to come to terms with what a spokesperson described as “an unreasonable landlord.” In addition to the kitchen, Pippin’s has inherited a raw bar, three banquet rooms, and a second-floor barroom. It will also, pending permits from the city, have a patio. If the patio is approved, the total cost of construction will exceed $1 million. But Pippin’s is remaining true to its divey roots: the circular bar and dark wood paneling are making the move from the old building to the new.
“We really worked hard on keeping the welcoming elements,” says Sophia Stolis, marketing director of Lodge Management Group, Pippin’s parent company. “It’s such a brand that everyone was welcome: people coming in after weddings, tourists, regulars. We’re hoping to keep the built-in crowd and add other people.”
Executive chef Amanda Barnes, a Houston native and industry veteran with stints at the Publican, Mindy’s HotChocolate, Celeste, and the Purple Pig, is creating the first menu in Pippin’s nearly five-decade history. Lodge is known for Gold Coast bars including Hangge-Uppe and the Original Mother’s, and the Redhead Piano Bar in River North. None of these places are famous for food. But at Pippin’s, Lodge isn’t taking short cuts. Don’t expect old-school bar food or defrosted pizza: everything on the menu will be made from scratch. Decades after “farm to table” was introduced to the American public, Pippin’s is jumping on the bandwagon. Management boasts that much of the meat, fish, and produce will come from local suppliers.
The drink selection is also expanding at the new location. The bar will have 25 draft handles; there will also be wine and cocktails and a selection of Scotch and Irish whisky.
“I’m not trying to say this will be Pippin’s 2.0,” Stolis says. “It’s a new journey in a new space, and we’re very excited.”
Pippin’s Tavern, 39 E. Chicago Avenue, reopening in September