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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Three bars to fill space of former Spin nightclub
by Ross Forman
2015-05-09

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Spin Nightclub is gone, still.

Whiskey Trust and Chloe's are gone, no doubt for good.

Manhole is coming back, yet again, and set to open May 15.

The Den Cocktail Bar is new, and it will open May 14.

And a third, yet-to-be-named bar will open sometime this summer at the corner of Halsted Street and Belmont Avenue in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood, where the southwest corner—an anchor to Boystown—has seen more than its share of changes over the past year or so.

All three bars will be owned and operated by LKH Management, which also runs Elixir, Hydrate and Replay Beer & Bourbon.

Manhole will continue in the downstairs portion of the former Chloe's, filling about 1,500 square feet. The bar will be open Thursday through Sunday, with its strict dress code enforced on Friday and Saturday. Men must be shirtless or wearing leather gear, and women must only be wearing their bra. No decision has been made yet about enforcing the dress code on Sundays, too.

"I think Manhole is very important for the leather and fetish communities, to make sure our entire community feels welcome and there is a place for them," said Sean Kotwa of LKH Management.

The original Manhole, which was located at what is now Hydrate Night Club, closed in 2002. It reopened at the former Chloe's last September, yet was closed again in December, along with Whiskey Trust.

Chloe's and Whiskey Trust were the brainchild of two owners who took over the Spin space from its longtime owner, David Gassman.

Gassman reacquired the building last December after financial hardships from Jason Zilberbrand and Jordan Zabinger, though LKH had been managing the operations at the time.

"Manhole was very well received by the community [in 2014]; that makes me think there's room to grow the brand and that it will be successful and popular," Kotwa said. "We want to make sure that Manhole is around to stay for a long time now."

The Den fills about 850 square feet and boasts a 1920s men's social bar vibe, with Prohibition-era cocktails that Elixir mixologist Vlad Novikov has crafted.

"The style and décor that we went with [in The Den] includes high-back leather chairs, a much more comfortable seating [area], but still on the darker color palate side," Kotwa said. "Drinks [at The Den] will be classic, spirits-driven, [with] more whiskey, rye and gins. There also will be a portfolio of flavors, a combination of fresh juices and homemade simple syrups

"I think [The Den is] going to have an identity of its own this time," Kotwa said.

The Den will feature a new, large window to look out over Halsted Street, and it "will be a very comfortable space to enjoy a cocktail," Kotwa said.

As for the third bar, it will encompass 3,400 square feet, and Kotwa said they are "hoping" to be open before Northalstead Market Days in August.

"Rather than just putting a band-aide on something, I'd rather fix it and create something that, one, is going to last and, two, is going to look beautiful," Kotwa said.

The staff from the three bars might be overlapping, said Kotwa, who added that they will employ about 50 to 55, which will be full- and part-time.


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