Two years ago, Nobody’s Darling broke the mold of LGBTQ bars in Chicago, and the Andersonville tavern was named a James Beard Award finalist in 2022. Now, the welcoming neighborhood tavern, after more than nine months of anticipation, is unveiling an expansion that will nearly double its capacity.
Co-owner Renauda Riddle says that she and business partner Angela Barnes will showcase the new space on Wednesday, September 20 with an opening event from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. so patrons can tour what once the bar’s neighboring space at 1746 W. Balmoral Avenue. There’s also a new cocktail menu with nods to Black and LGBTQ icons Eartha Kitt and Nina Simone. The food is from fellow Black-LGBTQ-women-owned business Taylor’s Tacos. There’s also beer from Black-owned brewery Funkytown.
The expansion includes 45 additional seats, bringing the bar’s capacity to 110. A second bar in the new lounge-style space will also help create extra wiggle room for both bartenders and patrons. Workers carved out a 10-foot opening in the wall that divided the spaces but needed to wait for 40th Ward Ald. Andre Vasquez to approve a zoning chain. Barnes and Riddle made the request in early 2023.
Nobody’s Darling arrived in September 2021 amid a nationwide discussion over the country’s dwindling number of lesbian bars. Riddle and Barnes were suddenly part of a historic shift in LGBTQ nightlife, positioning their business as an inclusive space led by queer women. That ethos has cultivated a significant fanbase that reaches far beyond the North Side neighborhood, even drawing out-of-state customers from Wisconsin and Indiana.
Barnes and Riddle are particularly eager to make sure residents get a chance to explore the addition. “It’s important for us to continue to have a positive relationship with the community,” Barnes told Eater in January. “It’s our first go-around of running a bar, and we do sit smack-dab in the middle of a residential area. That can be challenging, so we try to be sensitive and make sure we’re being good neighbors.”
Take a look at the new drink list below.
First Look at Nobody’s Darling Grand Expansion, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 20, 1744 W. Balmoral Avenue.