The regular: Dawn Anthony at Scot's
Scot’s 1829 W Montrose Ave, 773-528-3253
At any given Friday night happy hour, you’ll find a crowd at Scot’s, a neighborhood pub in Ravenswood where the only features more dominant than the lengthy bar are rotating seasonal decorations such as February Mardi Gras bead “chandeliers” and a convivial cast of regulars. One of the first I encounter is Dawn Anthony, 54, sitting with friends at the round table by the front windows. I ask if she always sits here, and one of her friends laughs. This is, of course, “Dawn’s table.” After all, she’s been here longer than the bar.
Because Anthony has lived just a block away since 1980, this was her local hangout. Through most of the ’90s, it was Off the Line, a lesbian bar. When Thom Scott and Bill Houlihan bought it 13 years ago, Scott did something Anthony will never forget: “During the transition, he stood up on the bar in his khakis and said, ‘Everyone is welcome. This is a community bar,’?” she recounts.
It might be known as a gay bar, but Scot’s also draws lesbians and heteros. Over the years, several dozen regulars gelled into a tight-knit group. More than just drinking and watching Cash Cab at the bar, they attend Cubs opening days en masse and many even vacation together annually to Puerto Vallarta.
They proved their loyalty two winters ago when a city water main broke, turning a stretch of Montrose into a river. Suffering major flood damage, Scot’s closed for more than a month. Many regulars pitched in to clean the muck that had washed into the bar and the basement. Because Anthony lives nearby, they carried dishes to her condo to wash them. “We were all here working,” she recalls. “People came from far away, not just from the neighborhood. That’s when I said, ‘This is truly a family.’”