So this one starts with, “4 guys walk into a steakhouse…”
And ends with, “…And then decide to close Citizen Bar.”
Yes, it’s true. Citizen and the surrounding parking lots are most likely set to become the next luxury living space of the future in our now beautiful neighborhood, River North. Letting the bar go is a tough thing to do as over the last decade we’ve all come to love the place. We have some incredibly loyal & talented staff members. We respect them immensely. Our brothers, sisters & family have worked at Citizen. We’ve built regulars we now call friends at Citizen. Our friends have met their husbands/wives at Citizen. It’s been our bar.
Throwback story: The first weekend we opened the bar, then named “On the Rocks,” we didn’t have a liquor license. It’s our contention that no laws were broken in opening because we did not charge anyone. No joke. We did this. Unfortunately, that move may have (definitely) upset a few (more than few) people so we actually had to close down for a month. In that time, we changed the name to the one you now know, Citizen.
One thing the downtime afforded us was a moment to have some drinks on our rooftop and contemplate the business going forward. We planned on having a patio to the East of our building but we didn’t necessarily have rooftop strategy right away.
But there was something great about having drinks up there...
We were all like, “Wow, this is kind of cool.” People walking down Erie Street were like, “Wow, that’s cool…can we come up?” And we were like, “Yep.” Then the neighbors in the surrounding buildings saw us and were all like, “Hey can I borrow a cup of sugar and have 15 beers on the roof?” Again, “Yep.” And in that poignant moment we looked at each other a lot like this and said, "Did we just open a Rooftop bar?”
So we snagged a license for the rooftop and outdoor drinking above street level in Chicago was born!
Throughout the years Citizen hosted Charity events for groups like The Sue Duncan Chidren's Center & Immerman Angels. We had viewing parties for owner Jimmy D's Millionaire Matchmaker episodes not once but twice!!! And for his sister, Nicole D'Ambrosio going all the way to live finale of The Apprentice. Not to mention, we RARELY made the roof private so YOU, the every day Chicagoan, could throw parties up there too.
Fast forward to the present day and nearly every Chicago publication has a Top 20 List of Brand New, Ultra Hottest, Rooftops for the summer. We'd like to think we took a small part in making this happen when one decade ago we boldly went where no River Northian had gone before by selling domestic beer and inviting people wearing all kinds of shoes to our rooftop. Even flip flops. Amidst all the trends that have evolved over the years, we’ve tried to stay true to form and be the “Come as you are,” rooftop for the City of Chicago. And it's worked.
But the scene has changed and in many ways passed us 4 dudes in a steakhouse by. Rather than double down and invest in interrupting people from looking at their phones to serve them drinks, we will fold this hand and take a step away from the table…for now.
Over a delectable seafood tower and a couple of steaks, we got together as bar owners one last time and discussed some of our tall tales from back in the day. We talked about our times at the bar with friends, family…and even the times we went out solo on a random Wednesday looking for just a little trouble. We have insane stories from when we were younger. We did things we'll never see the youth today do.
We can’t prove ANY of that though because our stories never made it to Facebook or Snapchat. They’re not documented anywhere but in our minds. And if we’ve partied together, they’re in your mind too.
Those stories are beautiful and they happened at our bar. Citizen.
Chicago, Thank You for all the great times. We'll cya around.
Some of our favorite photos are below: