With a crudely painted Cubs logo on its simple exterior and requisite hanging Old Style sign, Home Tavern seems to be a typical north side dive bar. But after entering the bar, you may pause to make sure that you didn't wander into someone's home. Granted a Tuesday night is not the optimal bar night, but once inside it becomes abundantly clear that the bar is appropriately named.
The decor is straight out of the dive bar textbook; drab tiled floor, wood bar, and white drop tile ceiling. The three tables on the left were cluttered with newspapers, a pack of cigarettes, a pocket knife, mail, a hairbrush, cleaning supplies, and a few knick knacks. Just past the tables sat one of the owners, Michael, who looked very comfortable sitting in a chair, shoes and socks off and placed near a table, with his feet up in another chair. His black Labrador retriever was sprawled out on her back, legs up, under the middle table, snoring. Behind Michael was a large dog bed along with several dog dishes. From the ceiling hangs a variety of stuffed animals. Michael has patrons bring the stuffed creatures in to hang from the ceiling. The reason? If the regulars aren't in, then Michael can talk to the stuffed representative. Amidst the animals, looking out of place are several multi-colored ceiling fans. Cubs banners and signs reinforce that this is a Cub bar.
Home Tavern opened in 1932. It's been in the family since 1948. In 1966, Katie and her son Michael, the current owners, purchased the bar from her father-in-law.
For entertainment, there's a juke box and a good-sized HD television resting on a large ancient refrigerator that most likely has been behind the bar since the beginning. The 20 inch tube TV on the other side of the bar is exclusively for Katie to watch her programs (Tonight it was TBS's presentation of Tin Cup, edited for TV). There are four other tube TVs scattered throughout the tavern, but it's unlikely that they all are operational. A few of them are in the dark back pool room. A game of billiards? No. This room is used for storage. The only light breaking the darkness comes from an aquarium on the rear wall. The dim light reveals a stuffed piranha on top of the aquariums, a back car seat against its front, and a sailfish mounted on the nearby wall. Cobwebs cover the clutter of golf clubs, the aforementioned TVs, more cleaning supplies, boxes, and other junk.
Mixed drinks are $5.00. German beer sets you back $4.50. Gooses Island Summertime bottles cost $3.50. Domestic bottles and drafts are $3.00. The $4.00 special shot is “Kill The Bitch.” Which is a variation of Killepitsch. It's a herbal liquor with 42% alcohol content that Katie calls the German Jaegermeister. There is no food offered.
Who drinks at Home Tavern? According to Michael; “You never know.” Katie offers a little more insight; on a daily basis it's locals, but the weekends bring in the 20 and 30 something crowd. At one point a man in his sixties came in and sat at the bar. Katie said nothing and pulled and Old Style and placed it in front of the man. Tuesday night. Must be a local. The bar opens at 11:00 AM and close, as Katie puts it, “Whenever I feel like it.”
Around 10:00 PM Michael got up from the chair, said goodnight, and went up the stairs to his apartment. His shoes and socks remained behind.
After all, when you're at home, you don't always clean up.
2828 N. Lincoln
Sunday to Saturday 11AM-Whenever Katie feels like closing.