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Kasey's Tavern Review Oldest Bars In Chicago South Loop Printer's Row Historic District Downtown In The Great Wide Thirsty Thursdays Travel Blog

Kasey's Tavern


We found Kasey’s Tavern as we were looking for the oldest bars in Chicago, but whether or not it actually is the second oldest bar in the city is up for debate. Regardless, it’s a friendly neighborhood bar that’s certainly worth a look!


CONTENTS



Where is Kasey's Tavern?

Kasey’s Tavern is located in the Printer’s Row neighborhood in the South Loop of Downtown Chicago. The Printing House Row District is recognized as a National Historic Landmark District, protecting the architecture of specific buildings in the area for their historical significance. In 1996, the district was also designated a Chicago Landmark. Needless to say, this is a really cool neighborhood to walk around in, plus it’s just a few blocks away from Lake Michigan and Grant Park.


Kasey’s physical address is: 701 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60605



How to Get to Kasey's Tavern

We took the 146 CTA bus from the Shedd Aquarium to the Printer’s Row Neighborhood, getting off at State and Balbo, then walked the 2 blocks over to Kasey’s. Since this is downtown Chicago, there are TONS of buses that will get you within a few blocks of the tavern, and the 22 and 62 bus lines even run all night (heading north and southwest, respectively), so you don’t have to worry about staying too late at the bar.


Also, the Harrison and LaSalle stations service the red line and blue trains, respectively, and are both only 2-3 blocks away from Kasey’s.


If you prefer to drive, there are a ton of paid parking lots in the neighborhood. Beware: it’s downtown Chicago, so parking can run upwards of $15 for 12 hours of parking. Since we were driving in for the day from Rockford, we opted to instead park at the Rosemont station of the blue line (aka the L train) and take the light rail the rest of the way into downtown. Parking at Rosemont only costs $7 for up to 14 hours, and a day pass for all of the CTA only costs $5, so you can definitely save yourself some money and the hassle of driving in downtown Chicago that way. The blue line also runs 24/7.


Kasey's Tavern Review Oldest Bar Downtown Chicago Pub With Craft Beer In The Great Wide Thirsty Thursdays Travel Blog

Reservations at Kasey's Tavern

Kasey’s Tavern is open 7 days a week, opening at 11am. They claim that they take reservations on their Yelp page, but there’s nowhere online to do so. This isn’t the kind of place you make reservations for, anyway. Just stop by!


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History of Kasey's Tavern

The space that Kasey’s Tavern now occupies first became a bar in the 1880s. It’s changed hands a number of times, first opening as a sit-down restaurant called George's Busy Bee, then Chester's Lounge, then Bernie's 701 Club, before a man named Casmir “Kasey” Weglarz bought it and renamed it Kasey's Tavern in 1974. The long-running history of the space makes Kasey’s Tavern the ‘second-oldest bar in Chicago’, although that isn’t entirely true since Kasey’s itself didn’t open until 1974, but the location has maintained a steady liquor license since the 1880’s, making it the second-oldest liquor license in the city.


At the time Casmir Weglarz purchased the space and turned it into Kasey’s Tavern, he owned the busiest, most popular nightclub in Chicago, but he was getting into his 60s and decided he needed a change of pace. The building had just been renovated into apartments, as the printing industry was already in decline, but he also knew that the hard-working, blue collar printers in the area would need a place to sit down and have a beer after a long shift.


As the years progressed, more and more printing business buildings were turned into apartments, and in 1986, patron Bill White offered to purchase the bar to give Weglarz even more leisure time while he was in his 70s. White liked the bar serving their blue-collar workers during the day, but had the idea to turn Kasey’s into a more hip bar at night for the increasing population of younger denizens moving into the neighborhood, so Weglarz tended bar during the day and White tended bar at night. The tavern ended up with two opposing identities and clienteles: with blue-collared workers by day and a younger, more hip crowd at night.


Kasey's Tavern Downtown Chicago Oldest Bar With Craft Beer Review In The Great Wide Thirsty Thursdays Travel Blog

Our Experience

Phoebe and I have family in Rockford, IL, so we travel through Chicago quite a bit, but had never spent much time in the city itself, so we’ve decided to start spending a day there each time we go through. For this day trip, we started our day at the PIttsfield Cafe (which we found thanks to the show Somebody Feed Phil) before heading into Millennium Park and taking in the world-famous Bean. Lollapalooza was happening that weekend in Grant Park (we have a tendency to accidentally happen upon major events - see our Beantown Pub article from Boston), so we weren’t able to visit the Buckingham Fountain or the majority of Grant Park, like we’d intended to do. We ended up walking down to the Shedd Aquarium, which was an absolutely amazing experience, but if you’re going to do the same, check the weather first! It was way too hot for us to be doing that when we did and we ended up kind of regretting it.


After the aquarium, we knew we’d have some time to grab a drink, so we looked up old bars (as we are history nerds), and found Kasey’s, which was just a short bus ride away and close to the blue line that we would need to take back out of town afterwards. We took a very crowded bus for about 10 minutes, stopped in at Devil Dawgs just outside the bus stop for some Chicago hot dogs, and then walked 2 blocks over to Kasey’s. The Printer’s Row neighborhood in the South Loop is quite beautiful and Kasey’s is no different. It’s filled with dark woods that give it an English Pub feel, but it’s much more spacious than any English Pub we’ve been in. There was a fantastic outdoor seating area, but we opted to sit at the bar to appreciate the history of the place.


It appeared that we were hitting that time when Kasey’s transforms from a working-class pub by day, to a vibrant, sports-loving bar at night. There were ten TVs plastered along the back of the bar, and the bartenders were very accommodating to people watching their Sunday afternoon sports. We were watching a game show on a tv further away and the bartender actually changed the channel of the tv right in front of us so we could see it better. Quite a few other people in the bar ended up getting really into the game show with us, so it was a fun experience to have with a few locals.


The bartenders were very pleasant, suggesting a number of local beers to us. There are 130 beers to choose from at Kasey’s, including 38 on tap, plus a full bar with a respectable whiskey collection, so everyone will be able to find something they like. A large selection of the craft beers come from local Chicago breweries, or from surrounding areas in the Midwest. We always prefer to drink the local brews when we travel to support their small businesses and get a feel for the area.


Some Yelp reviews claim they serve pizza, from frozen, but we saw no evidence of this at the bar. It’s not really necessary, as there are a ton of restaurants, from sit-down fancy places to hole-in-the-wall hot dog places, within a couple of blocks of Kasey’s, so popping out for a quick bite isn’t an issue.


While we were there, the bartenders controlled the music and played a lot of 2000’s hip hop, so the bar had an odd combination of vibes: an English pub from the decor, a sports bar from the TVs, but they were mostly showing game shows, and we were listening to throwback hip hop. Ha! It was strange, but cool. The bartenders obviously knew several of the other patrons there on a first-name basis, so this spot has a great ‘Cheers’ vibe.


Downtown Chicago Bar With Patio Printer's Row District South Loop Kasey's Tavern Review In The Great Wide Thirsty Thursdays Travel Blog

Our Verdict

Kasey’s has a fantastic feel to it, obviously being a neighborhood bar with regulars being greeted by name from the staff. It’s affordable, down-to-earth, and a piece of Chicago history! If we lived in the area, we would definitely frequent Kasey’s to sample all the craft beers they offer, but it’s a good option for visitors too because it’s so close to so many tourist attractions like The Bean, Grant Park, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Field Museum, but without that touristy feeling. Make sure to give it a shot when you’re down in the South Loop!


English Pub And Sports Bar In Downtown Chicago Kasey's Tavern South Loop Review In The Great Wide Travel Blog Thirsty Thursdays

Quick Reference Guide

What

Where

How to Get There

The CTA red line and blue line trains have stations at Harrison and LaSalle within 3 blocks of the tavern, or the 146 bus will take you from Museum Campus to only a block or two away from the bar.

Time Commitment

You could stop in here for a quick drink or stay for hours watching a game. They’re open from 11am until late 7 days a week, so you can stay as long as your liver holds up!

Cost

Beers range in price from $7 - $10

Reservation Info

Yelp claims they take reservations, but this isn’t the type of place you make a reservation for… just stop by!

Our Verdict

A warm, friendly neighborhood bar always hits the spot for us, and Kasey’s Tavern checks all those boxes. It’s in a great location for history and for convenience while getting around the city and taking in some tourist attractions. Make it a stop when you’re in Chicago!


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Adam and Phoebe Couple Travel Bloggers for In The Great Wide Thirsty Thursdays Blog


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