Once an old man bar, the Cork Lounge was a classic example of an old-school Lakeview tavern, similar to that of nearby Johnnie’s, Keenan O’Reilly’s and Millie’s Tavern. However, the Cork Lounge is one of the few neighborhood pubs to actually benefit from over two years of Brown Line el construction. The CTA actually cut away part of the building housing Cork Lounge and the owner took the opportunity to renovate the pub and give it new life. In 2008, “The Cork” was reopened with an impressive new bar and one can still take advantage of cheep beer and a game of pool, just as the current regulars’ ancestors did going back to 1936 when the bar originally opened.
The Cork is adjacent to the Addison Brown Line El stop. Formerly constructed of 1940s-era stone slabs and a tiny front window crowded with neon beer signs, the newly renovated stone façade is a nice improvement. Pass through the plate glass door and you’ll find a long room with stone tile flooring, exposed brick walls and an ATM just inside the entrance. The new wooden bar with its dozen beers on tap and high-backed wooden barstools looks old in a classic way, especially with old fashioned lamps hanging overhead. Sadly, the circular Budweiser sign with Clydesdale horses pulling the beer wagon is a victim of the recent renovation. A narrow space leads back to the restrooms on your left and a large pool table that has replaced the dartboards in the rear. The Cork Lounge doesn’t serve food but, the Orchid Café is located a half block east at Lincoln and Addison and is highly recommended if you like Turkish food.
With its El-induced renovation, the Cork Lounge has become more of a neighborhood pub and an upgrade from the previous dive-like tavern. This makes The Cork a good place to start off the night or stop in for a drink as you’re coming home for work, much like the Rail on Damen, Waterhouse on Paulina and Mystic Celt on Southport. Some say Cork Lounge dates back to the end of Prohibition, and is now owned by Tony and Sofija Ristov, who took over in the 1980s. Let’s hope The Cork is around can make it another 70 years. For more information, check out the Cork Lounge website.
Pre-El construction Cork Lounge
St. Patrick’s Day with the Chancey Brothers at the Cork Lounge