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A cocktail topped with a smoke bubble.
Contemporary cocktail magic meets fan-friendly digs at No Vacancy.

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A Sleek New Sports Bar Debuts in River North

No Vacancy pairs mellow game-day fun with modern cocktails

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.

A shotgun-style bar space filled with tables and chairs.
Exposed brick walls lend an air of Chicago authenticity.
A cocktails in an ice cream cone-shaped glass topped with a bubble of smoke.
The One & Done.
A cocktail in a cone-shaped glass covered with a smoky cloud.
Poof, like magic.

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.

A bar entrance from the street. A red neon sign reads “No Vacancy.”
No Vacancy replaced shuttered Irish pub the Pepper Canister.
A corner of a bar space filled with tables and chairs.
The bar sits across the street from Boka’s new French brasserie, Le Select.
A long-narrow bar space filled with tables and chairs.
On sunny days, these windows will fill the room with light.
The Dime Piece.
A Slush Puppie slushie machine.
Boozy slushies lend themselves to a good time.
A tall collins glass filled with a dark red cocktail topped with a sage leaf and blueberries.
The Silver Lining.
A cocktail in a coup glass topped with a dried orange slice.
Picture Me.
A long bar space filled with tables and chairs.
A pressed-tin ceiling offers a nod to local dive-bar culture.
A portion of a long bar space filled with tables and chairs.
Sports fans needn’t worry — the space has plenty of screens.
Three birria egg rolls sit in a red bowl.
Birria egg rolls.
A red bowl holds several large chicken tenders beside two metal cups of dipping sauce.
Pretzel-crusted chicken tenders.
A large cheeseburger and fries on a round white plate.
No sports bar is complete without a juicy burger.
A long black bar lined with backed leather stools.
It would be easy to settle into a bar seat for several hours.


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