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Andersonville's newest LGBT bar, Meeting House Tavern, set to open
by Carrie Maxwell

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When business and life partners Mark Robertson and Mike Sullivan decided to open an LGBT-specific bar, Meeting House Tavern ( Meeting House ), they chose the Andersonville neighborhood because of their long history as business owners in the community. The multi-story Meeting House will be located at 5025 N. Clark St.

The couple has been in the restaurant and bar business in and around Andersonville since 2010 when they bought Crew Bar + Grill and then in 2011 when they bought Sofo Bar and re-branded it The Sofo Tap. Robertson is also a consultant and financial advisor who has guided a number of hospitality businesses both in and outside of Chicago.

"The Sofo Tap is one of the top destinations in Andersonville and we hope to do the same with Meeting House," said Sullivan.

Robertson noted that adding another bar to the Andersonville landscape was an easy decision because the neighborhood is becoming "another Main Street for the LGBT community."

Sullivan explained that as active members of the Andersonville community for the past seven years they "have watched the neighborhood grow and flourish as a diverse community with a continued influx of LGBT and young residents. Andersonville is also a destination neighborhood for entertainment."

"The SoFo Tap brings in a lot of customers from outside the neighborhood—as do many other places in Andersonville—like The Magic Lounge, Neo-Futurists and the great shops and restaurants up and down Clark Street which have received national media attention in the past few years," said Robertson. "With the boom in residential and retail development along the South of Foster ( SoFo ) part of Andersonville, we wanted to offer a casual, affordable, hangout bar to serve a regular clientele as well as visitors shopping and dining in the neighborhood."

When asked why they chose the name for the bar, Sullivan said, "We think Meeting House evokes exactly what we are trying to create with our next bar—a place to meet up with friends and meet new ones. We want Meeting House to be a social gathering place for the community."

One of the ways Meeting House plans to stand out among the other bars in the neighborhood is its diverse selection of free of charge games—darts, pool tables, Skee-Ball, shuffleboard and arcade offerings. There will also be retro and indie tabletop ( board ) and card games.

The televisions will rotate between showing sports programming, music videos and popular TV shows for viewing parties. Robertson and Sullivan plan to later add video-based trivia games via tablets and TV screens.

"An awesome bar is not just about the interior or the physical features although we think people will like the look inside," said Robertson. "A bar is really about the customers, community, service team and overall experience. Meeting House will feature a diverse mix of programming and events to complement the games available all the time. Our team will strive to create a safe, no attitude hangout for everyone, every day."

Along with a diverse selection of spirits, wines and beers ( 10-12 on tap with rotating seasonal offerings ); Meeting House will also have Prosecco and their signature margarita on tap. A seasonal cocktail menu will be available as well as two rotating frozen cocktails made with pure sugar and real fruit juices, purees and nectars.

Not only will Meeting House have signature drinks, they will also offer a special Tavern Bites menu from Hutch American Kitchen + Bar ( Hutch ) located in the rear of the building on Winnemac Ave. Meeting House guests will be able to order the bites from the bartenders and have it delivered to them by Hutch staff or have a drink at Meeting House while waiting for a table at Hutch.

Meeting House will be opening its doors ahead of the Memorial Day weekend. Robertson and Sullivan told Windy City Times to stay tuned for details about their opening day plans.

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