Hanging out and catching up with old friends while meeting new ones is part of what summer is all about. The theme and atmosphere at 6 Degrees bar in Bucktown cater to that very concept.
Conversation and music bellow from its open doors and, inside, black-and-white framed photos line the exposed brick walls. The pictures are owner and Springfield native Ann Keefner’s way of bringing people together and showing how everyone is connected.
Keefner originally wanted to name the bar Small World until one of her friends suggested 6 Degrees. “It was like hearing ‘Blackjack,'” she says. “That was it.” She also fell in love with the space when she saw it. Despite needing a bit of work it had great potential, she says. There’s a space open in the front with high wooden tables and chairs and a section in the back, with standard-height tables, that Keefner says works out as a nice space for families. The windows in the front which open up are also ideal for summer.
The first Saturday it was open, Keefner recalls, all of the customers had moved to the front of the bar and were sitting together, talking and having a good time, demonstrating what 6 Degrees is all about.
Using her digital camera to photograph those who visit, she plans to continue adding to the collection with pictures of friends, patrons and employees from all over to continue proving it really is a small world.
Located at 1935 North Damen, 6 Degrees has only been open since June, but Keefner can already recount stories of people who have pointed out familiar faces in the photographs. She also keeps a book behind the bar so visitors can write their names and contact information and, if they want, a small story or message to someone they’ve recognized in a picture.
“In a bar you can make that phenomenon happen,” she says.
All the menu items play off the theme of six—six sandwiches, six appetizers and six soups and salads—and cost between three and eight dollars. The bar also offers six different types of the Horseshoe—a Springfield specialty sandwich—consisting of two pieces of Texas Toast laid open on a plate, topped with meat, cheese sauce (the key ingredient) and fries. “A heart attack on a plate,” as Keefner describes it. Not exactly a summer dish but the soup and salad selection provides a nice balance.
Keefner also infuses her love of music into the bar’s atmosphere. In addition to the selection from the jukebox, attached to the wall, she likes to play music from her iPod. “The music is diverse,” she says. “People can listen to Widespread Panic and Radiohead while still getting that same tempo.” She likes to split up the type of music that’s played depending on the time of day—a more chill playlist during the afternoon and a “happy hour” playlist for the evening.
She and her staff make it a point to talk to and get to know their customers, helping to build on the theme of connection.
“We want for everyone to feel welcome,” Keefner says. “They can use this to connect with people they know and meet.” (Beth Wang)
6 Degrees, 1935 N. Damen, (773)904-8812.