The opening party starts today at 4 pm today!
Having closed in 2020 during the early days of the pandemic, today (Thursday, February 24th) the beloved Humboldt Park bar the California Clipper will reopen under new management. Dubbed Humboldt Park’s longest-standing neighborhood bar, the California Clipper building has existed at 1002 North California Avenue since 1912 when it was the L.L. Freeman Theater. During the flu epidemic at the end of World War I the movie theater closed and it has a hazy history through to 1937 when it reopened as the California Clipper Tavern.
Roll on 84 years and the California Clipper is reopening once more on the back end of another epidemic. The bar’s identity has been largely preserved with its recessed red neon lighting, cozy red leather booths, and vintage light fixtures still defining the bar’s interior setup.
The bar’s new operators Orbit Group have, however, installed a cutting edge new sound system and added a lounge area with acoustic paneling where C.C. Ferns Coffee Bar & Spirits used to reside. The new addition going by the name “The Little Clip” has been equipped with a DJ booth and will offer an intimate space for late-night weekend dancing and a listening space where drinks and music can be enjoyed during the week. The new sound system, meanwhile, is reportedly the same found in the legendary Abbey Road recording studio and used by the likes of Pink Floyd and the Beatles.
Walking into the bar it will still resemble the California Clipper of old with the same wooden bar and red glow. The restoration has kept true to the history of the bar without changing its identity. The California Clipper’s exterior sign has even been restored to look like the old 19th-century clipper ship it was designed for.
The menu has also attempted to resist the gentrification of Humboldt Park offer a menu that feels familiar with classic cocktails many staples in the community.
“We’re trying to make sure we’re being respectful to this neighborhood that’s been here for a long time that is honestly being gentrified so quickly, and we want to make sure that we’re not just snowballing on that,” Jean Evans said. “We want to make sure that the neighborhood knows how community-oriented we’re going to be, and how respectful we’re going to be of the bricks they laid before us.”
According to the bar’s music supervisor, Jesse Sandvik, bands, performers, and DJs will be taking to the stage twice a week as well as an array of different burlesque and drag shows.
The bar will throw an opening night party tonight from 4 pm until 1:30 am with a performance from Chicago-based duo Kiwicha. There will then be a KAINA listening session for her new album ‘It Was A Home’ tomorrow followed by DJ Nosha Luv playing tomorrow night and then DJs Sean Taylor and Tamahori playing on Saturday night. You can find all upcoming events at the California Clipper here.
The California Clipper will be open every day from 4 pm to 2 am. More information can be found at californiaclipper.com.