Granite floors, two custom-fitted bars and gleaming cherry wood walls are some of the highlights of what used to be a “basement dive bar” just two years ago.
The original Yak-Zies at 506 West Diversey has reopened its doors after being closed, due to the death of its owner, Kenny Miller, in 2007. The “facelift,” as general manager Dan Schack describes it, began in November.
“People walk in and they’re like ‘wow,’” says Schack. “The response from the neighborhood has been unbelievable.” The bar has been a major part of the Lincoln Park community since it first opened in 1966. The first reopening party, on August 1, was reserved for friends and family, many from Florida where Miller’s wife, Connie, owns the Pompano Beach Yak-Zies. Bar-goers from the 1960s and 1970s were invited to come in August 3; those who came during the 1980s and 1990s on the fourth. Tonight, the 2000-and-beyond-crowd fills the room.
The front bar is actually an old-fashioned island bar and the second is a standard against-the-wall-bar.
“We wanted to keep that old-time feel,” Schack says about the island bar. “A lot of old-time friendships were formed at this type of bar.”
Seventeen flat-screen plasma TVs also line the walls of Yak-Zies. Each table has its own small television and all work independently.
The interior might have changed drastically but the menu is still the same. Schack says members of the kitchen staff have been at the Yak-Zies Wrigleyville location for years so they know exactly how to run things.
“Kenny was good at what he did,” Schack says. “People know it and they love it.” (Beth Wang)