Wide-ranging renovation project at Roscoe's Tavern set to begin in late-March

Mon. March 19, 2018 4:00 PM by Ross Forman

roscoe's tavern in boystown

photo credit // roscoe's

Chrisman: 'The interior of Roscoe’s has always been unique...'

Chicago, IL - An eight-week renovation at Roscoe's Tavern is set to begin at the end of March, though the popular Boystown bar will remain open throughout.

"The catalyst for this project was the need to replace our Front (or Main) Bar, (which still has) the original wood bar from 30 years ago. (So) you can only imagine the wear and tear it has seen over the years," said Roscoe's general manager Brenden Chrisman. "In addition, we are removing sections of the north exterior wall (facing Roscoe St.) and installing large bi-fold windows, allowing us to open-up the bar to not only fresh air and sunlight, but also to our sidewalk patio.

"We will also be installing a new state-of-the-art sound & video system for our DJs, VJs, and stage productions." Plus, there will be upgrades and modifications to the interior design of the bar.

Chrisman told ChicagoPride.com the renovations should be finished in time for patio season and Memorial Day weekend.

"The original floor plan and design, while dear to our hearts, does not allow for optimum usage of our space," Chrisman said. "Night after night, we see large crowds come to Roscoe's; we want to make sure that our design allows for maximum space utilization, safety and comfort. We have spent many years absorbing customer feedback and observing the customer experience, and we are confident that now is the time."

Chrisman, 37, who has worked at Roscoe's for 15 years, said the renovations will not alter the look at feel of Roscoe's "The interior of Roscoe's has always been unique – from the various rooms, to the distinctive tin wave, to the beloved antiques and doll houses – and that is something we never want to change," Chrisman said. "Customers will, of course, notice the new floor tile, fresh paint/wood stain, new windows, updated floor layout, etc., but we don't want to shock people. We hope that they will walk in say 'Something is different, (but) I can't quite put my finger on it ...but I like it.'"

Roscoe's renovated their front restrooms three years ago, which led to double the amount of toilets/urinals for men and triple the amount of toilets for women. "The resulting success we saw from those changes paved the way for this next project," Chrisman said.

During renovation, the front bars will not be open for service, but the back bars and dancefloor will be open 7 nights a week. The patio entrance (on Roscoe St.) will serve as a primary entrance during the process and the front restrooms will be operational.

"We will continue to offer most of our weekly programming, along with some special events," Chrisman said. "Drag Race with Frida Lay and Dueling Pianos will continue, and every night will feature a different mix of video/dance music by our excellent staff DJs and VJs.

"Plus, some of the biggest names in drag, such as, Adore Delano, Sasha Velour, Alaska Thunderfuck, Karen from Finance (Australia), and Panjina Heels (Drag Race Thailand), along with RuPaul's Drag Race Season 10 Contestants Eureka O'Hara, The Vixen, Kameron Michaels, Monet X Change, Aquaria and more will be joining Trannika Rex on Thursdays for our weekly viewing parties."

Roscoe's has a staff of about 50. Chrisman said they are "super excited" for the renovations.

"We are blessed to work in an establishment that helped re-define the image, concept of gay bars across America, and we know that all eyes will be on us," Chrisman said. "We are sensitive to the disruption this will cause our customers. In operating during renovations, we know frustrations will arise and, in advance, we appreciate everybody's understanding and patience."

Roscoe's Fact: The No. 1 drink served at the bar is, Absolut Citron Pink Lemonade Pitchers.