Schubas (Bar & Music Venue, Lakeview)
A good music venue will make you feel at home the second you walk into it. Whereas a place such as the Empty Bottle might feel a bit homely (and I mean that in the most positively endearing way), Schubas has a home-like ambience. Whether it’s the nightly music, classic food menu, or the seemingly perpetual positive demeanor of the Lakeview crowd, you’ll never second guess your night should have been spent somewhere else.
First off, a bit of history. Perhaps you’ve noticed around town those corner bars and former bars that have elaborate terra cotta Schlitz globe engravings on them. This can all be explained by “tied houses.” Tied houses were bars financially supported by specific breweries. In the days before Prohibition, this was a rather common occurrence and one that the Schlitz brewery took quite advantage of (more info can be found here). The building where Schubas resides has been around since 1903, but has only retained its current moniker since 1988 when brothers Chris and Michael Schuba bought and refurbished the site.
Before you get acquainted with the music venue in the back, walk along the bar and perhaps you’ll notice some folks chowin’ down at the tables lining the windowed side of the bar. In addition to this small seated area is the 80-seat adjacent dining room, the Harmony Grill. This larger dining area and full kitchen finished in 1997 allows for an expansion of their “signature home-cooked American regional cuisine and seasonal specials.” Weather permitting, outdoor seating lines Southport Ave. as well. Although mostly known for its nightly music, the restaurant is open all day, allowing for their acoustic Sunday brunch sets and occasional family-friendly jams. See what’s enticing on their food and drink menus.
As for the venue itself, I would certainly rank it higher acoustically than most of the smaller shoeboxy venues. With a wooden arch as a threshold for the stage and curtains lining the walls, the interior décor creates an intimate and illustrious setting without becoming claustrophobic. There are quite a wide variety of acts that play here, from acoustic crooners to psychedelic noise-pop, but they all seem comfortable and apt to play at Schubas. At the back by the in-venue bar is the merch area, often controlled by a band member — a great opportunity to give them a thanks-for-playing and maybe a couple bucks for a disc or poster.
What Schubas prides themselves on most is hosting bands before they make it big. They have a hall of fame list that includes the likes of Dave Matthews Band, Spoon, and Modest Mouse, artists that now have no problem selling out the larger theaters and headlining the biggest festivals. What this means for you? I’d say take every opportunity you can get to get to Schubas before you have to shell out the bigger bucks for bands you could have seen ‘before they were big.’ If you want to check out some online goodies ahead of time, listen to their weekly mixtape, check out some interviews, look at pics, and see what future stars are playing next.
Location: 3159 N. Southport (SE corner of Belmont and Southport)