Photos: A Gorgeous Time Capsule Of A Bar Opens In Wicker Park

By Anthony Todd in Food on Nov 17, 2015 7:15PM

Heisler Hospitality specializes in restoring vintage bars with a ton of character, and this time they've outdone themselves. Queen Mary, a nautical-themed bar that sat vacant and sealed for forty years, is now open in Wicker Park—and gosh is it pretty.

The bar's name was inspired by Mary Kafka, the 92 year old building owner who has been in the neighborhood for more than 60 years. At one point, according to owner Matt Eisler, she operated a tavern in the space, but her husband was attacked during a robbery in 1975 and she shuttered the spot, never to re-open. She was such a neighborhood fixture that people in the area refer to her as the "Queen of Division."

Inspired by that, Heisler created Queen Mary, in her old space. "The whole idea of the place is to show off the time capsule of a bar. Even though we had to bring the bathrooms up to code and certain other related issues, we tried to keep the place as intact as possible," he explains. Nothing had changed until they walked in, so this is pretty darn close to an old fashioned Chicago bar.

The "Queen Mary" name led them naturally to the nautical theme, which they've reinforced with touches all over the restaurant and on the menu. Around the bar, look for anchors, grizzled sailors and mermaids, and the entire place feels like you are below decks on a ship at sea.

The menu reinforces the theme, with drinks like a daily rotating grog and cocktails that incorporate "navy strength" spirits, which were originally designed to be diluted at sea to turn into grog for sailors. The complete drink menu is up on Eater.

Check out the pictures and get excited.

"The room is super cozy and accessible and should be a great place to hang out in the winter," says Heisler. We can't wait to take him up on that offer.