Our restaurant & brewery space will be turning one year old on February 17, and while we may feel new, the space itself is over 100 years old. Our birthday seemed like the perfect time to dig more into our space’s long history.
1746 W. Chicago Avenue has seen a few lives, but the building was originally The Hub Theatre, which opened in 1913. Entering the restaurant now, you can see the original floor tiles that spell out the theater’s name. The Hub was designed in the neoclassical style by David Saul Klafter, an architect better known in Chicago for his residential architecture.
Although The Hub was a single-screen theater, it had 600 seats and many features common to bigger theaters: a massive street-side marquee, a front lobby, a candy counter, and double feature screenings.
According to Konrad Schiecke's book Historic Movie Theatres in Illinois the theater eventually closed and stood vacant for some time, but then reopened in 1989 as a second-run venue.
A Chicago Reader story on local movie houses, describes more about the theater’s second life, which was born thanks to Barbara Salmeron. One day the lawyer and her daughter drove by the 70-year-old theater and decided reopening the movie house would be fun—no matter that Salmeron had no experience running a theater. Despite this, she brought the The Hub back to life serving, “a menu of action adventures, horror flicks, comedies—plus Chinese movies on Monday—and she was friendly with local toughs, blunting potential gang problems. The Hub had no air conditioning, so customers sweltered in summer, but enough people came that Salmeron realized a small profit for three years.”
Unfortunately The Hub’s audience eventually disappeared. According to the Reader story, “with only one screen, [Salmeron] couldn't maximize her fixed costs—heat, light, electricity, and staff—the way her competitors could. As West Town grew more bohemian, the families that had been the Hub's anchor customers moved away."
In June 1994, The Hub closed permanently and was converted into office space.
Fast forward two decades to 2014. After visiting 20 other spaces, our founder saw 1746 and called BJ, our head brewer, the same day. They agreed this was the space they’d been seeking—a place that would accommodate our restaurant and brewery concept, but more importantly, allow us to become part of a neighborhood and community. Robert was handed the only key to the property and was told not to lose it. Luckily, he never did!
Restaurant entryway before and after shots.
Brewery before and after shots.
Vintage photos from Cinema Treasures.