Before its inhabitation by Union in 2000, the establishment at 2858 North Halsted Street used to be an excellent neighborhood joint run by Steve Medjar and known as Gaslight Corner (not to be confused with the Gaslight Club), which catered to many of those working in the nearby theaters. Since the Gaslight predates the Chicago Bar Project, and yours truly having been there, I’ll have to refer to the words of Dennis McCarthy:
“The Gaslight Corner is simply a good neighborhood tavern. The bar is clean with white stucco walls, stained glass, hardwood floor. There’s a small liquor store in an adjacent room where you can buy a bottle from a good wine selection and drink it at the bar. There’s a homestyle kitchen serving sandwiches and German bratwurst plates, but the cheeseburger is the local favorite. There’s a large TV screen in the rear which features DePaul basketball games, hockey games and baseball, as well as the occasional movie. The place is comfortable, reasonably priced and offers a good selection of wines, beers, and German specialty liqueurs. In the basement, there is a huge rathskellar with booths, a fireplace and a small bar. This room is for rent for private parties.”
– Dennis McCarthy, The Great Chicago Bar & Saloon Guide (1985)
“Located just across from Sarantos Studios and the Organic Touchstone Theater, this neighborhood tavern tends to draw a mixed crowd of locals, blue-collar workers, actors, and theatregoers. Some come to drink and socialize, but many come to eat. As bar grub goes, the hamburgers, pizza, bratwurst, and onion rings are top-notch and dirt cheap. There’s a beer garden in back.”
– Richard Saul Wurman, Access Chicago (Fifth Edition, 1999)
For part of its history, the Gaslight sat across the street from the old Steppenwolf Theatre (now located much further south on Halsted). Back then, you could hang out at the Gaslight after Steppenwolf performances and chat with the likes of Gary Sinise, Laurie Metcalf, Joan Allen, and William L. Peterson who came for a burger or grilled cheese. Now, the focus lies on watching Big 10 games, which to some is an improvement, to others not.
Ah, Gaslight, we’ll miss you…
One of only 13 bars rated Four Mugs (top rating) by The Official Chicago Bar Guide (1994)