November 2012 update: John Barleycorn River North is due to open Nov. 15.
Article originally published July 10, 2012.
Downtown Chicago football fans will have one more option when it comes to sports bars this season with John Barleycorn River North due to open in late August at 149 W. Kinzie St., next to Moe's Cantina.
The sports bar and restaurant is the ninth venture from the team behind Moe's Cantina Wrigleyville and River North, as well as the John Barleycorn outlets in Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park and Schaumburg.
"With ESPN Zone gone, we're going to be the biggest sports bar in the area," owner Sam Sanchez said.
The sprawling space will feature a 7,000-square-foot dining area on the main floor, a second-floor dining area with seating for 500, as well as a separate room in back with seating for around 40. In all, the space can be divided into four separate areas, with the second floor intended to be used to host sports-viewing parties without having to shut down the entire bar.
While Sanchez is not sure which Big Ten school will win the bar's alliance (head to the John Barleycorn River North Facebook page to cast your vote), he's sure that the bar will draw a lot of Iowa and Michigan State fans, who come to other Barleycorn locations in droves for big games.
Fans of the franchise will find many similarities between the River North outpost and the other locations, including plenty of TVs (95 60-inch screens, plus several larger wall panels) and a menu of burgers, sandwiches and ribs.
What won't be duplicated in River North? The dance floor from the Wrigleyville outpost won't be making an appearance and you can expect more craft brews--14 mostly local brews on draft--to be poured at the space's four bars. For social media addicts who can't get through a meal without uploading a photo or checking in on Foursquare, Sanchez promises that every table and booth will be outfitted with an electrical outlet and iPhone chargers at the ready.
The River North sports hub will also take on a more family-friendly style than its siblings in Lincoln Park or Wrigleyville.
"We want to see strollers," Sanchez said. "We want to see babies ... they're our future customers! Kids 12 and under will eat free with their parents. ... We want them to know they can come and enjoy a sports game as a family."
With construction at John Barleycorn River North "90 percent completed," Sanchez said the team is also focusing energy on a new venture on Clark Street in Wrigleyville. The planned restaurant will have a globally influenced barbecue theme and is set to open before the Cubs' opening day in 2013.
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