Photo: “Rico’s Beer” by Kevin Drew Davis
It’s a tried-and-true tradition: spending the hours bookending a Metro show or Cubs game with a drink at GMan Tavern. With our expansive beer list, friendly and knowledgable bartenders and eclectic event calendar—hosting programming that ranges from trivia and acoustic sets to film screenings and activist meetings and election polling—it’s no wonder that the ritual has stood the test of time. GMan Tavern is more than a bar—it’s a clubhouse, a neighborhood watering hole, a safe haven from the pandemonium of Wrigleyville’s rowdy sports bars, and a piece of Chicago tavern history.
GMan Tavern joined Joe Shanahan’s “North Clark Street campus” when the building was acquired from Dan Schnitta in 2012. While GMan Tavern is the new addition to the Metro/smartbar collective, 3740 N. Clark’s past echoes throughout the two-room sprawl thanks to careful restoration of the building’s construction and decor. Down to its era-specific light fixtures, restored patterned tile floor, and reclaimed bar top, GMan Tavern is a beacon of Chicago tavern history preserved with care. We like to make history of our own, too—our manager, Katie DeGroote, and our front bar’s jukebox (ringing from wood speakers lovingly restored by DOOM Audio) were named the best in Chicago by the Chicago Reader.
GMan Tavern’s back bar is a fully outfitted music venue, featuring custom-designed speakers and audio system by DOOM Audio. With reverence for the neighborhood’s vibrant history and eyes set on a bright future, GMan Tavern strives to enrich Chicago’s tavern and arts scene as the “last bastion of bohemia” on North Clark Street.
3740 N. Clark St. boasts a rich cultural history at both local and national echelons. The building’s first real estate deed dates back to 1905 and its first round of construction commenced in the early 1900s, standing as Wrigley Field’s “friendly neighbor over the left field wall” for over a century.
Before becoming the tavern it is today, GMan Tavern’s abode hosted a tailor shop, mapmaker’s office, barber shop, lingerie manufacturer, Japanese-American newspaper, and resale shop. GMan Tavern’s edifice has made a splash at the international level, as well, thanks to appearances in the Martin Scorsese-directed pool hall drama The Color Of Money, starring Tom Cruise and Paul Newman. It’s not all grit and theatrics, though—GMan Tavern is featured in the opening sequence of Kyle Kinane’s highly acclaimed Comedy Central special Loose in Chicago, which was filmed right next door at Metro.
The building played a heavy hand in shaping Wrigleyville’s cultural history thanks to our Music Room’s tenure as the Remains Theater, which hosted plays by the likes of David Mamet and Larry Kramer, and the home base for local classical music sensations the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble. The 3740 address’s foray into the bar scene began with the opening of the Grand Slam Tavern, which later morphed into the Gingerman Tavern. GMan Tavern has continued to celebrate its versatile space by serving as an art gallery, music venue, polling place, local watering hole, Cubs game viewing spot, and even the home base for the Thanksgiving Eve conclave “Stories, Lies & Pints.”
As a sister venue to Metro and smartbar, GMan Tavern echoes its neighbors’ core philosophy: serving the artistic community of Chicago by showcasing national headliners and excavating local/regional hidden talent. You never know where an artist’s journey will lead from our stage—the first show at GMan Tavern was headlined by then-unknown troubadour Jake Bugg; he swiftly sold out Metro barely a year later.
GMan Tavern supports all artistic disciplines; whether we’re hosting a photography exhibition or poetry/spoken word reading, even a local comedy showcase. If our walls could talk, you’d hear stories about parties with Mike Mills of REM and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, late-night DJ sets with the Numero Group and live sets by Poi Dog Pondering and Tommy Stinson (The Replacements), surprise aftershows with The Menzingers and Frank Turner and Scott Lucas (Local H). We like to keep it in the family, too—bartenders Damien Wilburn and Laura Zielinski are part of The Blind Staggers, and the Lawrence Arms’ Brendan Kelly can be found slinging his famous Bloody Mary’s from the bar on certain afternoons, or stepping up for an acoustic set. Longtime friends WXRT have welcomed Lowdown Brass Band and Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) to our stage, WBEZ’s Don Hall has brought spoken word and poetry readings to the Music Room, Vocalo has welcomed hip-hop showcases, and we’ve even hosted our Bloodshot Records pal Lydia Loveless for a surprise late-night aftershow, along with her labelmate Robbie Fulks.
Whether you’re an artist or a local, GMan Tavern is your neighborhood watering hole, venue for discovery, and destination for conversation.
GMan Tavern’s history is constantly being written—and you can be a part of it. From party rentals to catered cocktail hours and sponsored events to your band’s headlining night, there’s a place for you at GMan Tavern. Email Christen Thomas (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information and rental rates.
No matter who you are or where you’re from, when you’re kicking back for a drink and conversation, you’re part of the GMan Tavern story.