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Roscoe Village's Favorite Dive Bar, Jazz Institution Hungry Brain, Is Back

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 5, 2016 5:26PM

Amidst a spate of long-standing local bars and restaurants closing, there is at least some good news coming down the pipeline. The Hungry Brain in Roscoe Village, which closed in 2014, is back in business.

In November of 2014, Hungry Brain co-owner Janis White told Chicagoist several reasons factored into her and Luz Cordova's decision to close the bar at that time. One interesting reason: "We can no longer hold our own with all the new places opening in Logan Square," White said. "People in that neighborhood used to shoot down Western to drink with us and now there are breweries and bars and what not."

The venue built its reputation as a spot where Chicago's underground jazz scene could indulge its lost experimental tendencies. It attracted crowds of martini sippers comfortably rubbing shoulders with PBR-swilling bike messengers. And for years, it was a lonely outpost along a mostly residential stretch of Belmont Avenue.

We understood White's frustration at the time she spoke to us; Logan Square was in the midst of its boom, and it was newer venues west of Hungry Brain reaping all the benefits (and foot traffic).

The bar quietly reopened late last year, keeping irregular hours and hosting a few shows, including a New Year's Eve bash last week. The party featured a jazz combo anchored by drummer Mike Reedone of the new partners that helped to reopen the club—and a few spoken word performances.

As of this week, the soft open has officially ended and the club is open for regular business again.

We're pleased that a venerable live music institution is back in the mix. Its stage was sorely missed by a scene that often fights for mainstream attention. And with Reed's involvement, especially given his experience booking both the Pitchfork Music Festival and the Chicago Jazz Festival, we anticipate plenty of late nights filled with excellent bands.