After a nearly 20 year-run in a century-old converted frame house located near the North Branch of the Chicago River, The Hideout is looking down river to the centralized, bustling South Branch, where it has opened a new pop-up spot for 10 weeks along the Riverwalk.
Situated in a high-profile stretch of the river, between State and Wabash streets, The Hideout Riverwalk is surrounded by architectural landmarks that include the Marina City towers and the Trump Tower and its infamous sign. Hideout co-owner Tim Tuten reflected on the journey that has brought him from a spot that was off the beaten path to the splashy, newly developed riverfront.
“It’s funny, we always joked that we were in the middle of nowhere, in an industrial area between Lincoln Park and Bucktown. Now we’re literally on the beaten path. We started when we were all in our twenties, now, 19 years later, a lot of our friends work downtown and now we’re downtown. Who would have thought that we would have a job down here? We feel like grown-ups,” Tuten said.
Tuten, his wife Katie, and their friends Mike and Jim Hinchsliff bought The Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave., in 1996. Over the past two decades, the grassroots operation has hosted an eclectic mix of musicians, actors, writers, dancers, and poets, among others, and has earned a reputation as one of Chicago’s best intimate venues. On The Hideout’s website, the bar is self-described as “the last holdout of the rebel club.”
After hearing that Chicago was looking for businesses to help activate the Riverwalk, The Hideout owners filed a request for proposal with the city in early spring and was selected for the pop-up location in June.
“We feel so lucky that we were selected because what I love about the Riverwalk is that it reflects the city’s intentions of what they wanted it to be,” he explained. “It reflects the culture of Chicago and it gives us a chance to tell a story deeper about Chicago and localize the history of the city. The river is an easy and exciting way to get downtown and it connects neighborhoods to downtown in an artistic and culturally significant way.”
Employees from the original Hideout will work at both locations, and, according to Tuten, Hideout regulars who often inquired about working at the bar were among the 10 new staffers tapped to accommodate the expansion.
When it came to the design of the new digs, Tuten explained that they wanted to be as true to the original as possible, in order to bring the authentic atmosphere of The Hideout out to the riverfront.
Design details of the pop-up include a 24-foot wide, indoor wooden replica of the shack-like Wabansia house -- complete with the iconic green door of the original. Strands of holiday lights and posters lining the walls are reminiscent of the original location. Outside, The Hideout’s front porch was recreated with picnic tables and a 20-foot stage, built from the original’s porch decking. A familiar 10-foot gold curtain and a Hideout sign create the backdrop.
“The only differences are that the house is only one story instead of two and The Hideout sign is blue instead of green. Our legal name is The Hideout Inn and we’ve been joking around saying this is ‘The Hideout Inn-Side Out,’” Tuten said.
Despite the often unpredictable weather that Chicago experiences during the fall – when the thermometer can drop to unseasonably chilly lows -- Tutan intends to hold as many concerts outdoors as possible. Otherwise, there is plenty of space to move the performances indoors.
Like its original, the music at the Riverwalk location will lean toward Chicago-area musicians, and the food and drink menu will showcase local companies, including Bridgeport Pasties and Lagunitas Brewing Company. To cater to Chicago’s working class, the pop-up will offer an afternoon drink special called the 3-3-3: a $3 beer and a $3 shot for three hours between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm, which Tuten described as “perfect synergy” with the city’s recent announcement of its happy hour ban.
Since this is the first year that the Riverwalk has been activated, it’s yet to be determined if The Hideout will return in 2016. If it does return, a six-month run would be possible, from June 1 through November 1.
Tuten said that the feedback from The Hideout’s loyal patrons has been “amazing” and that his customers and staff share his enthusiasm to bring the history of The Hideout to a new and more accessible audience downtown.
“We want to show residents and tourists a true reflection of what Chicago is really like. It’s not fancy, it’s less pretention -- and less is more. I don’t see the Wabansia location and the pop-up as two isolated places, but connected by the river. The Riverwalk already feels like a small community working together and to have a piece is exciting,” Tuten said.
The picnic tables are out, the umbrellas are up, and the wooden stage is set. Let the music begin.
The Hideout’s 10-week pop-up spot at 35 E. Riverwalk South will be open through Nov. 1 and will offer free, all-ages concerts from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm on weekdays, excluding Wednesdays, and 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Sundays. The bar will open at 11:00 a.m. daily with food served all day, and closing hours -- at least for the time being -- will be between about 9:00 pm and 11:00 pm. To accommodate the expansion, The Hideout has decided not to hold its annual Hideout Block Party in 2015.
About the Riverwalk
The Riverwalk is part of a city plan to bring the heart of downtown to the lakefront and will connect six blocks along the river from State Street to Lake Street. Phase one of the Riverwalk opened along the south bank of the Chicago River in 2009; phases two and three opened this summer. The $100 million project is scheduled for completion next year.
The design for each of the six sections included in the project is based on a conceptual theme. The Hideout is located in “the Marina” section, from State Street to Dearborn Street near the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Plaza.
In the interactive map of the Chicago Riverwalk below, click on the icons to learn more about the attractions.
To read Mayor Rahm Emanuel's May 2015 press release for phase two of the Chicago Riverwalk, click here.
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