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A dramatic bar.
The Peal Club might be fancy, opulent, or upscale, depending on who's talking.
The Pearl Club/Olivia Blinn

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The Pearl Club’s Dramatic Design Erases All Traces of a Dive Bar

Explore Boka’s Rob Katz’s new elegant cocktail lounge, which opens this weekend

Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

The Pearl Club, the new cocktail bar replacing 26-year-old Emmit’s Irish Pub, has a Saturday, April 15 opening date on the corner of Grand, Milwaukee, and Halsted.

Visitors can expect a dramatic transformation as Kehoe Designs has turned the bar into an elegant cocktail lounge, wiping out all traces of the old sporty tavern. Need more evidence that the space isn’t a dive bar? Customers can book reservations online for the Pearl Club.

Just north of the West Loop, the Pearl Club’s owners, Matt Ruder and Rob Katz, are banking that developers can mimic some of the upscale success enjoyed along Randolph Street. Currently, the area includes places like the Dawson, Piccolo Sogno, Richard’s Bar, and La Scarola. New residential construction could mean more business.

Katz is the co-founder of Boka Restaurant Group. He and business partner Kevin Boehm heavily invested in the West Loop and Fulton Market with restaurants like Girl & the Goat and Momotaro. Katz saw the area change from meatpacking central to home to some of Chicago’s best restaurants. The area seems to be going through yet another phase currently, one that involves brands like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, and Sweetgreen.

Katz’s new endeavor will feature drinks from bartender Paolo Acuña (Lazy Bird) and food from executive chef Isaac Blinn (Porto).

Take a look at the space and the food below.

The Pearl Club, 495 N. Milwaukee Avenue, reservations via Resy.

A dark bar with chandeliers and a glass host stand.
The Pearl Club transformed the former Emmit’s space.
An aerial look at a dark bar.
The curtains block out light from Grand and Milwaukee.
A well-stocked bar with a sign reading “The Pearl Club.”
Co-owner Rob Katz is banking that the neighborhood will develop.
It’s a lounge.
Note the blue curtains.
Four cocktails in glasses.
The Pearl Club’s drinks are mixed by Paolo Acuña.
A bowl of fried chicken nuggets.
Double crunch chicken nuggets
Three sliders
Triple Crown Sliders with a brisket-short rib blend, white cheddar, Vargo Bros. sour pickels, shaved onions
Steak tartare
Steak Tartare (prime flat iron beef, Caesar aioli, aged parm with Publican Quality Bread sourdough)
A tin of breaded veggies.
Seasonal Tempura Veggies


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