Editor’s note: today the Irish pub, Maeve, inhabits the old Bluebird space
Throughout the 1990’s, the Blue Parrot had a good run. Not to be confused with Blue Parrot Tearoom & Cafe (Riverside), Blue Chicago, Blue Frog Bar & Grill, Blue Chicago on Clark, the Note (formerly the Blue Note), Blue Mesa (gone), the Bluebird Lounge (gone), or even Parrot’s for that matter, the Blue Parrot was somehow able to make a name for itself. Unfortunately, because it was tucked away within the quiet confines of Lincoln Park West, not many outside the neighborhood even knew it existed. For me, it was like the Oak Rail, the Side Street Saloon and Will’s Northwood’s Inn – bars that you happen by every now but can never remember where they are. Many that were familiar with the bar were actually those inevitably waiting for a table at another neighborhood hidden gem, Rose Angelis across the street. For those that knew it who weren’t simply using it as an anteroom, the Blue Parrot was a Chicago classic.
The Blue Parrot, presumably named after Señor Ferrari’s tavern of the same name in Casablanca, sat perched at the corner of Wrightwood and Wayne, looking out over a plethora of brick three-flats along the adjacent tree-lined streets as far as the eye can see. A picture of a blue parrot (surprise) hung over the door of this maroon-columned bar housed within red brick. Inside, one easily became enchanted with its richly paneled wood interior, elegant brass-trimmed bar, and blue lighting. Patrons, atop comfortable barstools of the Tiny Lounge variety, enjoyed Guinness, Harp, Bass, and martinis from a long wooden bar that stretched along the east end of the bar as they ogled the opposite sex located at wooden cocktail tables across a narrow, hardwood floored expanse that separated them while classic rock played in the background. More adventurous souls would have a crack on the solitary blue-felted pool table in the back, located between each bathroom, of which the women’s featured lollipops. Since the bar was polished, so were the regulars – Lincoln Park’s finest seeking a bit of sophisticated lechery.
“Like a roach motel for yuppies, and just as crowded.”
– The Official Chicago Bar Guide (1994 and 2001)
My excursions to the Blue Parrot were sadly short in number, but what I do recall is that it was a top notch saloon, sans any Ferrari-like characters and almost as if it were a Lincoln Park’s answer to the Get Me High Lounge. There was never an air of pretension (all too common in the area), a long wait to get on the pool table, a lack of talent to keenly observe, or an annoyance with the waitstaff. Instead, the Blue Parrot was a fine watering hole with classy décor that was ideal to spend an evening during the week or to pop in on the weekends. This was unfortunately not enough as the Blue Parrot went the way of its brethren Rick’s Cafe Americain, formerly located in the Holiday Inn Lake Shore Drive, as they both took the proverbial last flight to Lisbon. Hopefully, the heir to the space at 1325 W. Wrightwood will maintain some of the spirit and style of its predecessor. Until then, see you at Jack’s.
“Along with my business partner, Bob Athey, I was a founder of the Parrot. We probably spent too much money. The walls were hand-sawed Mahogany, and we found a place in New York that had the dies for the stamped tin ceiling. Hard to believe how heavy that tin was. It came on a small wooden pallet and the nested tin pieces were only about five inches high, but must have weighed about 900 lbs. The bar that pre-dated the Parrot was called the ‘Wright-Way Tap.’ Ray, the old fellow who we leased from, said that he and his brother-in-law ran two saloons off one license back in the 1940s. The second saloon was where the restaurant Tavish now operates, just across Wayne from where the Parrot stood. The Parrot’s demise was a result of losing our lease, not a lack of business.”
– D.T. (October 3, 2008)