When Aubrey and Patrick Jacknow first started dating, Patrick worked at Celtic Crossing, a now-shuttered bar in Chicago that the couple hung out in and loved deeply. They always talked about opening up something similar on Madison Street in Forest Park, a space with no TVs, live music, and the charming ambience of an old European bar.
“My husband always wanted to have a bar, but we thought it would be further down the line. This was too good of an opportunity to pass,” Aubrey Jacknow said.
When the owner of Murphy’s Pub approached her about putting the bar on the market — she is a broker at Jacknow Realty — the two realized it was their dream space. In late January, in fact on the day of the Polar Vortex, when temperatures reached record-breaking lows, the Jacknows made their own history. They bought the bar and building at 7414 Madison St. and have since worked to transform the first floor into Lantern Haus, a bar, and the second-floor into Lantern Loft, an event space.
“We’re realtors. We see people buying in the area and wanted something that would appeal to people moving here from the city, also people living in the area like ourselves, looking for something different,” Jacknow said.
They named the bar and event space after an old nickname — evolving from Jacknow to Jack-O-Lantern to simply Lantern. They plan to officially rebrand the space, with updated décor and food and drink offerings by January 2020. Until then, the space will operate as Murphy’s Pub and feature incremental changes.
“We didn’t want to have an empty storefront on the street,” she said.
They have added new beer lines, and plan to eventually feature “rare German beers that you don’t find in the area,” with such seasonally-rotating Chicago favorites as 3 Floyds Brewing Co., Revolution Brewing, and Pipeworks Brewing Co. They have introduced a warming kitchen — similar to what’s offered at Starbucks — and plan to partner with local eateries like Spilt Milk. The duo also plans to add seasonally-inspired cocktails.
“Part of the thought process behind the soft rollout is, we feel like we’re bringing a new concept and trying to test the waters on some things. So we’ll see if some newer concepts will work in this market,” she said.
The end goal is a German bar that will “complement locations like The Heritage and give people something a little more unique,” she said. Décor-wise, the two plan to restore the building’s old tin ceiling and hang custom lanterns over the bar, which will be set back and offer a space that is ADA-accessible. They’re also updating Lantern Haus’ bathrooms for ADA accessibility.
Lantern Haus’ floors will be stained maple, and the two plan to replace many of Murphy’s Pub’s neon signs with artwork. They will keep two of the TVs.
Upstairs, in the Lantern Loft event space, they have refinished the floors to a darker wood, painted the walls white and added a quartz countertop.
“It’s very bright and open and airy now,” Jacknow said.
The space is available for rent, priced at $150 per hour on weekends and $100 per hour on weekdays. Lantern Loft has been used for kids and adult birthday parties, as a yoga studio, brunch gatherings and more. Jacknow, who organizes community events through her real estate firm, will also use the space for client appreciation parties.
“We just saw the potential of the space,” she said.