Legendary German tavern The Huettenbar, a cozy relic from another era of Chicago beer drinking, has closed, according to sources.
Whether the closure is related to the COVID-19 pandemic is unclear, but the sign above its Lincoln Square facade has been removed in recent days and its phone has been disconnected and website taken down.
With its hand-painted murals and taps committed largely to imported European beer, The Huettenbar was one of the last vestiges of authentic German heritage in a Lincoln Square neighborhood once rife with such heritage.
Irma Frolich, who has owned The Huettenbar since 1985, did not respond to a phone message.
Despite the proliferation of local craft beer and the popularity of major domestic brands, The Huettenbar, 4721 N. Lincoln Ave., stubbornly clung to serving primarily imported German (and Czech and Austrian) brands such as Spaten, Koenig and Kostritzer. It did, however, eventually add the rare local craft beer to keep up with changing tastes.
According to the Chicago Bar Project, which cites the 2000 book “Barfly’s Guide to Chicago’s Drinking Establishments,” Frolich’s mother was a cook at another legendary German spot, the Brauhaus restaurant, across the street.
“When Irma found out that the bar was for sale, she decided to try her hand at the business,” the Chicago Bar Project quotes the book. “Formerly a production artist, she knew little about running a bar. ‘My customers were the ones who taught me how to run my own place,’ she says, with a laugh. ‘I learned the trade day by day. Louie, the bartender, was here before me, and he helped greatly.’ Her relaxed and light-hearted attitude serve to make the place a friendly environment.”
According to its Facebook page, The Huettenbar was meant to be “the embodiment of the German word ‘Gemeuthlichkeit’ meaning comfort, warmth, a sense of belonging and of being yourself.”
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