If you like Hooters, you’ll love Crabbby Kim’s Bikini Bar. As you can guess, the main attraction at Crabbby’s are bartenders (or shall I say, bartendresses?), clad only in high heels and bikinis. Along this industrial stretch of Western Avenue, you might expect Crabbby Kim’s to be a sleazy dive filled with rough-cut, undesirables and seedy looking women. In actuality, the bar attracts a decent crowd (albeit predominantly male), has very attractive bartenders, and is a great place to hang out with your buddies, ogle the ladies, catch a game, and have a crack at the Golden Tee.
Crabbby’s is located on the corner of Western and Waveland, kitty corner from Waveland Bowl, across from the dilapidated and now-defunct Checker’s, and is just north of the used car lot, doing business as “Chicago Old Inc.” The massive educational facility, known as Lane Tech High School, is just down the road across from Hero’s Sub Shop, one of the best places to get a sub sandwich in the city.
Crabbby’s replaced a bar called “The Other Side,” named for its positioning as a lesbian hangout (with darts). The bar seems to blend in with the Western Avenue aesthetic, as it is housed in a non-descript, two-story red brick building. There is a parking lot on the side for your pickup truck, and there is a convenient gravel path leading to the front door. On my first visit to Crabbby Kim’s, I was rather nervous about entering the premises. Other bars in the area seem to attract a rough-and-tumble crowd, and I thought the same might be the case at Crabbby Kim’s. Combine with that the fact that the wooden blinds on the window prevent you from seeing into the bar (a surefire sign of a dive), and you get the picture. However, as you will see, my fears were all for naught.
If you’re half expecting to see a few women at Crabbby Kim’s in addition to the bartenders, forget about it – it’s all dudes with maybe one or two token females (a “stocky woman with a big jaw” was once seen, maybe as a holdover from the bar’s “Other Side” days). As described on Metromix, the clientele consists of, “Neighborhood repairmen. Husbands on their way home. Middle managers caught in the NASDAQ drown draft. More men.” The crowd tends to be a bit older, grayer, and less yuppified than most other bars in the area except for some of the other neighborhood joints like Chicago Joe’s and the G&L Fire Escape.
The long wooden bar runs down the north side of the front room. Crabbby’s now serves food from a grill behind the bar, wedged in the corner. I was there when they were serving free hamburgers to promote their new menu and they were excellent. They now have buffalo wings and steak sandwiches to go with their burgers. Beer is served in plastic pitchers that have compartments to store along the side or in a cylindrical metal tube (similar to that of a radioactive plutonium bar), which makes the burgers all that more enjoyable. All of which being served by a hot bartender in a bikini tops it off nicely. Crabbby’s offers eight beers on tap, but they’ll be happy to serve you a martini in a plastic cup (what did you expect?). After a few pitchers, you’ll probably need to head to the one-seater, tile vault potty located halfway down the front room, across from the bar.
Tables run along the side of the room, opposite the bar, with worn wooden slabs to sit on to match the worn wooden floor. Each table has an old Bell+Howell 10″ television, with sound furnished by dbx (you don’t see many of those – ever). Each TV is tuned in to whatever the satellite/cable is picking up on the TVs above the bar, so you can’t change the channel unfortunately.
The backroom consists of two areas, which are both sadly out of eyeshot from the bartenders. Thus, this area is less crowded. There is an area on the left with additional seating, separated from the Golden Tee machine and two electronic dartboards by a wooden lattice divider. My recommendation: stick to the front room.
The bar itself is black-lit, so the bartenders’ light colored bikinis stand out that much more (as if you needed any more reason to stare at them). The bartenders tend to be quite attractive and shapely, so you won’t be disappointed as that’s what you go to Crabbby Kim’s for in the first place. The bartenders actually serve patrons sitting at the tables across from the bar, so patrons’ attention is never that far from them. Bikinis are worn all year round, no matter the weather (THO baby!). Crabbby Kim’s even has the bartendresses in their bikinis at their annual golf outing, and recently put one over on excitable patrons by proclaiming “nude women bartenders” would pull your pint on April Fool’s Day 2001.
Hanging above the bar, next to the black lights, are two overturned Leinenkugel’s canoes with inflatable crabs atop them. Other decorations include a few plastic cases with baseball and other sport memorabilia, and lots of sports pictures framed on the wall. Just beyond the bar is a set of glass patio doors; I am still unsure if they are functional. Perhaps there is a beer garden in Crabbby Kim’s future (hopefully with bikini-clad waitress service).
For those of you with a keen eye for detail, Crabbby Kim’s is indeed spelled with three B’s due to a mistake in printing up the first set of Crabbby Kim matchbooks. They didn’t want to get rid of all the matchbooks, and the name just stuck. Even though you now know the answer to the triple-B riddle, Chicago: CitySearch suggests, “Don’t let that stop you from asking the question when you stop in. It’s a great way to strike up a conversation with a bartender in a bikini.” Nowadays, the “three B’s” stand for “beer, bikinis and burgers.” All misspellings aside, the bar was named after the owner’s occasional surly disposition.
With a minimum of sleaziness, Crabbby Kim’s is a great place for a guys’ night out, drinks after work, or to get you started on the weekend. Get yourself an eyeful, have a game of Golden Tee, see how many pitchers of Miller Lite you can pound, and you’ll be good to go. In recognition of its efforts, Crabbby Kim’s was voted “Best Bar” in Chicago for 1999 and 2001, as part of the annual, now-defunct Barfly News reader poll. Also in 2001, Crabbby Kim’s bartender Michele Proietto was awarded “Best Bartender” as well – not because she’s hot and wears a bikini, but because she is friendly… The prestigious award included, “a six-pack of semi-warm Busch Beer, pretzel rods, a Barfly T-shirt, and a check for $25.” Let’s hope dear Michele didn’t spend that all in one place. Yeah, baby!