On the table: The Owl
Indeed, Halpern is keeping up the five-year streak with The Owl, which is slated to open in late August/early September at 2521 N Milwaukee Ave in Logan Square. Like Estelle's, The Owl has a late-night (i.e., 4am) license, acquired from its previous tenant, the Mexican nightclub La Estrella. "It’s a late-night bar," explains Halpern, "although we strive for it to be an anytime bar."
"If you give people a reason to come early, they will," continues Halpern, who put that theory to the test with last year's remodel of Estelle's, where the addition of 13 draft lines has brought in an earlier crowd. (Six additional drafts were also recently added to Easy Bar's back room.) He's now applying that logic to the Owl, which will have 20 beers on tap—far beyond the bare essentials offered at most 4am bars.
The move to Logan Square was a natural one for Halpern. "A lot of my staff start out as customers and end up working at the bar," he says. They're "unpretentious: We let them be them; it’s not like you’re wearing a uniform or you’re wearing flair." And a lot of that staff, it turns out, lives in Logan Square. ("Plus it’s a beautiful neighborhood," Halpern adds.)
In addition to the beer selection, the Owl will have "your old-school [i.e., not digital] 100-CD jukebox" in keeping with the ones at aliveOne, Estelle's and Easy bar, and there will be a stage that will occasionally host live music and DJs. The Owl won't serve food but will stock menus from nearby restaurants for patrons to order in from. If it sounds like your quintessential neighborhood bar, that's because it is: In the end, even with an extensive beer selection and fresh space, Halpern's goal is to open "neighborhood bars that feel like they’ve been there forever."