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‘Bar Rescue’ is coming back to Chicago and we have some suggestions

Written by
Time Out Chicago editors

If you’ve spent enough time drinking in Chicago, you’re well aware that some of our city’s watering holes could really use a makeover. And that’s why God gave us Bar Rescue. Eater Chicago reports that the only palatable Spike TV show has once again has its sights set on our fair city. Bar Rescue kicks off its new season on July 2 with a hole-in-the-wall Portage Park spot called Casual Tap, which is apparently owned by a busy firefighter named Steve. Check out the teaser here.

As long as the inimitable hospitality expert Jon Taffer is in town, we have a few suggestions for Chicago bars that are desperately in need of a rescue.

Burton Place: If you’ve ever blacked out in Old Town, chances are you ended your night at Burton Place. The dirty dive is open till 4am six nights a week (5am on Saturday), offering a refuge for inebriated River Northers and Old Towners. And while we’d preserve all the authentic dive bar elements present here (darts, jukebox, grand circular bar), we wouldn’t mind a serious upgrade in service, cocktails and food.

Chuckie’sThis place’s clubby décor would fit right in in River North but sticks out like a sore thumb in unpretentious Rogers Park. The staff manages to be both sullen and inept, and potential customers seem to take the hint—in a neighborhood that’s not overflowing with bars, Chuckie’s is so rarely busy that locals joke that it’s really a front for money laundering. (That is a joke, right?)

Irish Eyes: This sticky-floored Lincoln Park dive may not think it needs a makeover, due to its steady stream of income from underage DePaul students. Taffer would likely encourage a crackdown on fake IDs, bulk up the beer list and give the whole bar a deep sanitizing cleanse to nix the seemingly permanent stale beer smell. 

Mad River: This bar attracts the just out of college set, still bent on drinking until their livers give out. Wristband deals for unlimited shit beer abound, and it’s not too hard to get on someone’s list to partake. While it's clearly a profitable business model, Taffer might be able to class the place up and broaden the scope of the clientele (while keeping at least a few of it's party-friendly gimmicks in place).

Underground Wonder BarThis longtime River North haunt has already received the Bar Rescue treatment back in 2014, when it was rechristened Clear Bar. However, Underground Wonder Bar quickly reverted back to its original name and abandoned many of the changes made by Taffer. Recently, the bar (which has perpetually been in debt) announced that it will be closing for good on September 3, 2017—an eleventh hour revamp might be the only thing that could keep the place in business, assuming management is actually willing to make permanent changes this time around.

Joe's on Weed StreetIn an interview with Stephen Colbert, Veep actor Timothy Simons called this Lincoln Park institution "the worst bar in America" based on his brief experience working as a bouncer there. That's the kind of negative publicity that's hard to escape, but it's an opportunity for redemption that could make for an engaging Bar Rescue Cinderella story. Maybe it's time for Joe's to decide if it wants to be a sports bar or a music venue? We're sure that Taffer would have some blunt opinions about how to ensure that Joe's never becomes the subject of a negative late night talk show interview again.

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