dControversial pizza influencer Dave Portnoy, known for his social media reviews of pizzerias around the country, and the company he founded, Barstool Sports, are building a massive new Chicago office. Barstool — a brand with a sportsbook, website, and several podcasts (even a Gatorade-liked thirst quencher) — also has a sports bar in River North that opened in 2022.
Crain’s reports Barstool is opening an office at 400 N. Noble St. in West Town, which is near West Loop and Fulton Market — neighborhoods stocked with trendy Chicago restaurants. The office will supposedly include a basketball court, plus music recording and kitchen studios. The latter could mean more food content. Perhaps Barstool will give bros the rare opportunity to banter about beef and bourbon online.
Earlier this year, Penn Entertainment took control of Barstool, while Portnoy continues as the face of the organization with a legion of fans that are called “Stoolies.” Portnoy is a Michigan man, graduating from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1999, and has built a fanbase in Chicago. Two years ago, Barstool was a big sponsor at Windy City Smokeout country music and barbecue festival with tons of thirst-quencher signage at the event in the United Center parking lot in 2021. That didn’t carry over in 2022.
Chalk up another pro-Chicago decision with a company moving HQ here from NYC. 180 companies grew or expanded here last year and we just won #1 for corporate relocation for 10th year in a row. https://t.co/ERkICoo0oy— Samir Mayekar (@chicagosamir) April 7, 2023
Barstool deciding to move to Chicago less than a week after some of their idiot fans and personalities said the city was done is hilarious.— Titus Pullo (@chibbqk1ng) April 7, 2023
Portnoy has taken an interest in restaurants and set up a fund during the pandemic to supply grants to independent restaurants across the country. His “one-bite” reviews have garnered controversy with pizzerias that often kowtow to Portnoy’s drop-in demands for fear of a negative review. Classic Slice in Milwaukee declined to serve Portnoy was when he visited in January; the restaurant was closed for an employee holiday party. Portnoy demanded that workers open the restaurant and feed him pizza, but instead was given cookies and beer and an apology. That didn’t sate Portnoy and he bashed the pizzeria. Classic Slice’s owner said he wishes Portnoy had called ahead, but still says he’s a fan.
Dante Deina, a Barstool contributor and DJ, already co-owns two Chicago bars, Uproar in Old Town and Roundhouse in Logan Square.
Barstool isn’t moving its headquarters to Chicago, the main office will remain in New York. Regardless, city of Chicago officials describe the new 40,000-square-foot facility as a potential destination and job creator. They’re optimistic that Barstool’s new owners mean a new direction for the media company. However, not everyone is convinced. In February, Portnoy dropped his appeal against Insider, which reported allegations of sexual misconduct against the Barstool founder. He has denied all wrongdoing.