A Logan Square lounge hearkens back to Grandpa's cocktails.
By Heather Lalley
Photography by Erika DuFour
Peek into Weegee’s Lounge (3659 W Armitage Ave, 773-384-0707) in Logan Square, and you’ll be wooed by the glowing tabletop lamps and the flickering votives lining the bar. Once inside, you’ll relax under the first crooning strains of Frank or Ella, but do yourself a favor and have a look around the joint. Eyeball those framed black-and-white photos on the walls and you’ll say, “Hey, aren’t those dead bodies?” Yep. Sure are.
This seedy underbelly is the charm of Weegee’s, a 1940s-era bar named after photographer Arthur Fellig (who earned his nickname—the phonetic spelling of Ouija—by arriving at crime scenes to lens still-warm corpses for New York City newspapers). The bar offers classic cocktails, a vintage shuffleboard table and the opportunity to muse over Fellig’s, ahem, body of work.
“Crime-scene photography was appropriate to the neighborhood,” co-owner Alex Huebner says of the sometimes rough-and-tumble area. He and his wife and co-owner, Lynne Marrs, met 20 years ago at the School of the Art Institute, where they became fans of the gritty photographer’s spare, crisp work.
When they bought the 1905-vintage building—just four blocks from their home—two years ago, they transformed, in Marrs’s words, “a scary old-man dive bar,” complete with faux-brick, boarded-up windows and video poker, into a neighborhood watering hole that would, hopefully, lead the way in transforming the ’hood.
“We’re creating an environment that’s comfortable for a cocktail and conversation,” Huebner says. “You’re not going to find guys slamming Jäger bombs.”
Nor will you find TVs, electronic games or Top 40 tunes. What you will discover at Weegee’s, though, are some 120 craft beers and a menu of old-school cocktails (think Manhattan, Zazerac, rusty nail and the like) made with premium ingredients, a vintage cash register, and a backbar with Deco touches straight out of a Bogart film.
Throw back a few drinks at Weegee’s, soak in the atmosphere and pretend you’re your own grandpa. Today, just like back then, it’ll make you forget about the war—at least for a song or two.