CHICAGO — When it first opened in 1923, the Lawrence Red Line stop sat in the heart of Uptown, a premiere destination for nightlife in Chicago.
Three years into prohibition, the Green Mill had already become a hotspot for actors from the nearby Essanay Studios and a hub for Al Capone and Chicago mobsters. Frank Sinatra would often perform there.
The nearby Uptown Theater was also a major destination in the roaring 20s, but it was shuttered in 1981. Under new ownership, the theater has a bright future ahead of it. A $75 million renovation by concert promoters Jam Productions and Farpoint Development should have music flowing through its halls by 2020.
“It will be one of the biggest concert venues in the city; bigger than the Chicago Theatre or the auditorium theater downtown; it is the most beautiful venue I have ever been inside,” said Martin Sorge, executive director of the local neighborhood association Uptown United.
The Uptown will be joining other historic venues in the area like the Riviera and the Aragon, which have been bringing crowds to the area for nearly a century.
When grabbing a meal before a show, the options are numerous and growing, including a mix of cuisines from Ethiopian to Mexican and everything in-between. Even the Green Mill is expanding and adding a restaurant.
If you’re looking for classic American fare, a new diner inside the historic Lawrence House kicks that up a notch. Called 3 Squares Diner, it’s menu and design feature a modern take on a classic.
“We try to get square meals for everybody, three times a day. But we take diner classics, we take American food, and we sort of re-conceptualize it,” said Ian Voakes, the man behind the restaurant.
Sure you can get an omelet, but how about one cooked French-style with sobrasada and aguachile verde. There’s a drool-inducing French toast option, and even 3 Squares’ signature coffee blend. Together with the full bar, it’s a perfect to grab a bite before a show.
“We saw uptown as an opportunity for a lot of growth because we see the changes that have gone on in the past 10 years and so we thought it would be a great opportunity,” Voakes said.
New opportunities are growing out of one of the city’s most storied locations, just a couple blocks off the Red Line.