Chicago's newest LGBTQ bar - 2Bears Tavern - brings boost to Uptown

Fri. June 3, 2022 1:53 PM by Ross Forman

2bears tavern uptown

photo credit // ricky lee barnes/2 bears tavern group

‘Our specialty is our specials,’ says co-owner Mike Sullivan

The 51st annual Chicago Pride Parade steps off on Sunday, June 26, in Uptown – not too far from Chicago's newest LGBTQ bar: 2Bears Tavern Uptown, which opened in March.

Located at 1140 W. Wilson Avenue, 2Bears Tavern Uptown is the latest social center from 2Bears Tavern Group, which also owns The Sofo Tap, Meeting House Tavern and Jackhammer.

“We are excited to open a new bar in the heart of Uptown, where so much growth is occurring,” said co-owner Mike Sullivan, who shares the title with Mark Robertson. “The area has already seen several new retail and entertainment projects, including the Baton Lounge, Double Door, and Chicago Market–a cooperative grocery–joining great retail and dining options along Wilson Avenue. And there are more than 1,000 new residential units that recently have been added or will be added in the next 18 months. We look forward to being a new entertainment option for people who live and work here and being a destination that brings new people to the neighborhood.”

2Bears Tavern Uptown features two bar stations with seating for 10 customers. There is a long banquette with tables at the front that seats another 12. In the back, there are two pinball machines, a dart machine and two gaming stations set up with Nintendo Switches, with seating for 12.

All games are free.

There also is a jukebox and popcorn machine.

“Our specialty is our specials,” Sullivan said. “We have every day specials, daily specials, and happy house specials. We're not into fancy cocktails but can serve up the classics. We have some fun house shots, such as the Cardinal Sin, Girl Scout Cookie and Green Tea; a house margarita on tap, and a rotating batched cocktail, which is currently the Tropical Run Punch, on tap.”

No food is served at 2Bears Tavern Uptown, but patrons are welcome to bring their own.

“As with all 2Bears Tavern Group locations, 2Bears Tavern Uptown will feature every day and daily specials, house shots and classic cocktails, with a focus on value,” Sullivan said. “Our opening beer lineup includes Goose Island's 312, Lagunitas IPA, Metropolitan's Flywheel, Lost Coast's Tangerine Wheat, and Miller Lite. We also have Blake's Triple Jam, a hard cider. In addition, we have a selection of non-alcoholic and CBD options.”

2Bears Tavern Uptown is open daily until 4 a.m., and until 5 a.m. on Saturdays.

“We think this area is ideal for a new LGBTQIA+ bar,” Sullivan said.

2Bears Tavern Uptown is located at the former Nick's on Wilson – with 5 months of renovation for its new look.

“Customers will see a whole new space, with new bathrooms, a new bar area, and all new bar equipment and A/V,” Sullivan said. “We also removed the sloping floor that ran across the first half of the bar. Customers will recognize the large Uptown sign that hung on the west wall of the bar when it was Nick's on Wilson. We've refurbished it, complete with gold leaf paint, and returned it to the same wall.”

2Bears Tavern Group partnered with architect and interior design firm d+k—the same firm that redeveloped 5025 N. Clark Street, which houses Meeting House Tavern and Boca Loca Cantina. “Mark's vision was to remake the space into a modern interpretation of a Jazz Era tavern, with tin ceilings, reclaimed wood, copper finishes, and of course free wi-fi,” Sullivan said.

“We strive to create a safe and welcoming LGBTQIA+ space with a focus on community, guest service and value, and hope to become a mainstay of this growing part of Uptown for years to come,” Sullivan said. “We hope 2Bears Tavern Uptown will become the destination watering hole for Uptown and surrounding neighborhoods' LGBTQIA+ community. And their dogs. (Yes), we are dog-friendly.”

2Bears Tavern Uptown features $4 Tallboys (PBR, Hamm's, Busch Light) and $5 Fireball, Jager and Malort shots. There also are different daily specials every day, such as $4 Stoli cocktails on Mondays, and $5 Lagunitas drafts and $5 premium well cocktails on Saturdays. Plus, there are Happy Hour specials on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – Fridays 3-6PM: $3 Premium Well Cocktails; Saturdays, 2-5PM: 1/2 Off All Drafts; Sundays, 2-5PM: $4 Premium Wells.

Socially Speaking: 2Bears Tavern Uptown, like all bars from the 2Bears Tavern Group, has a bar-specific hashtag for folks to use on Instagram. Every month, the bars will give away five $15 2Bears Tavern Group gift cards at each bar, chosen at random, to thank our customers for engaging on social media. #MeAtMeetys for Meeting House Tavern, #SoFoTapped for The SoFo Tap and #2BTYou for 2Bears Tavern Uptown. Gift cards are redeemable at all our bars.

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The SoFo Tap

“The response to our opening in August was phenomenal and our customers have really liked the refresh we did before we reopened,” co-owner Mike Sullivan said. “Folks are particularly fond of the large new mural that greets you as you come in.”

Local LGBTQ artist Wil Velez created the work, and he also has contributed to the new 2Bears Tavern Uptown.

Meeting House Tavern

“Things are going very well there too,” Sullivan said. “We've seen bigger crowds than we had before the COVID shutdown, as more and more people learn about the space. Thirsty Thursday Karaoke and Social Sunday continue to be very popular, and our BIG Gay Game Show on Tuesday seems to be growing by the week, so much so that we've now dedicated both floors to it. People really enjoy our 100+ board games, free darts, skeeball, pool and shuffleboard, too.

Related: Jackhammer to make comeback in Rogers Park this summer after remodel