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West Town Mainstay, California Clipper, Has Closed For Good

Colby Smith Colby Smith

West Town Mainstay, California Clipper, Has Closed For Good

After 21 years, the California Clipper is permanently closing.

California Clipper owner, Brendan Sodikoff confirms that the bar and its correlate coffee shop, C. C. Ferns, in Humboldt Park have closed for good.

Back in March, the California Clipper closed its doors after Gov. JB Pritzker stay-at-home order was put into place, forcing restaurants to close off their dine-in areas.

At the time, the bar also furloughed its staff in an effort for them to obtain unemployment benefits at the earliest possible time. Since then, the bar and coffee shop have remained closed. Due to a lease disagreement with the area landlord, the businesses will not reopen.

The cocktail bar and live music venue featured an intimate atmosphere to enjoy one of their 70+ libations in an historical area with roots in the 1930s.

The area in Humboldt Park where the bar stands dates back to the early 20th century, giving customers the impression: “if these walls could talk.”

Before Sodikoff’s company, Hogsalt Hospitality, took over, the bar was a speakeasy, before that a movie theater with a backstage stage for live music. The coffeeshop, CC Ferns, was previously the backroom of the speakeasy which had been used for galleries and showcases. In its 90-year run, the area had been a staple in Chicago’s night scene.

In addition to the California Clipper, Hogsalt Hospitality is the company behind Au Cheval and Bavette’s Steakhouse & Bar. Additionally, the company owns Ciccio Mio, Green Street Smoked Meats, High Five Ramen, and Small Cheval.

Some of the restaurants were able to reopen after closing March 16 in April for takeout. Ultimately, however, the staff was laid off.

While, Skodikoff owns the rights to the name, he is unsure of the possibility of reopening in the future.

The California Clipper is the latest of a wave of Chicago bars and restaurants to permanently close in the wake of the pandemic. Other businesses that have recently shuttered include: Jeri’s Grill, Little Bucharest Bistro, Toast, and Fat Rice.

[Featured image: @michaelantman]