A new Downtown bar from a pair of Chicago hospitality veterans aims to ride the line between a neighborhood watering hole and a contemporary cocktail destination in River North. No Vacancy, the newest venue from ex-DineAmic Hospitality partner Keegan Moon and Ivan McCullagh (Gibson’s Restaurant Group), threw its doors open Friday, March 17 — better known as St. Patrick’s Day — at 509 N. Wells St. The space previously housed the Pepper Canister, a stalwart Irish pub that closed in 2020 after 17 years.
A long, shotgun-style bar that seats 64 inside, No Vacancy aims to draw crowds with a menu of sharing-friendly bar fare like pretzel-crusted chicken tenders, birria egg rolls, and juicy cheeseburgers. The dishes are designed to pair well with sports, which air on a plethora of flat-screen TVs that dot nearly every wall in the room. The cocktail list, however, errs on the side of spectacle with options like the One & Done, which arrives topped with a smoke bubble.
The No Vacancy team has opted for a sleek, monochromatic look with black furniture and fixtures set against exposed brick walls and black-and-grey patterned wallpaper. Large Edison bulbs hang above the long black bar and illuminate a fancy wine dispensing system. A pressed-tin ceiling overhead invokes Chicago’s proud dive-bar tradition. When the weather improves, the team will open a 22-seat sidewalk patio.
The city’s boisterous bar scene is familiar territory for Moon, who spent more than a dozen years at DineAmic before his departure in 2019. The group is known for high-energy spots like Bandit and Bar Siena in West Loop as well as restaurants such as splashy Loop steakhouse Prime & Provisions.
Ultimately, Chicagoans will decide if No Vacancy has found a happy middle ground between a game-day gathering space and a cool cocktail bar with a few frills. Explore the space and menu items in the photographs below.
No Vacancy, 509 N. Wells Street, Open 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday through Friday; 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday.