A popular Loyola themed sports bar near Lake Shore Campus in a university-owned building closed its doors to the public Sept. 28 after unspecified financial problems.
Bar 63 — named for the fabled 1963 men’s basketball championship season, and a Thursday night haunt for many Loyola students — is saying farewell to Edgewater and the Loyola community after five years of operation.
The bar — located at 6341 North Broadway — had its business certificate revoked last week by the state of Illinois due to unspecified non-compliance with tax laws, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Michael Loftsgaarden, the assistant vice president of Capital Planning at Loyola, said 63 closed indefinitely Sept. 28. He said he went into the bar to discuss a lease termination Oct. 1 and while he was there, items were being moved out of the establishment and vendors were coming to pick up various pieces of merchandise.
While Loftsgaarden said he wasn’t sure of the specifics with the revocation of the business certificate, he said the bar is “closed for good.”
A bright green sign from the Illinois Department of Revenue was spotted Sept. 27 in the window of the establishment, stating if any sales were made, the bar would be risking penalties.
The color of the sign — green — indicates the problem was from taxes, the source said. Due to taxpayer confidentiality laws, the Illinois Department of Revenue can’t go into specifics of the revocation.
Gavin Hanson, who had been working at 63 in a variety of roles, including waiting and busing tables, bartending, and other maintenance jobs, said he received a text message Oct. 1 from his boss wishing him luck and declaring the bar had been closed. Hanson said that’s the last communication he’s received from management.
63’s management couldn’t be reached for comment by the time of publication.
The Illinois Department of Revenue serves as a tax collection agency for state and local governments, handles the sale of alcohol and also performs property tax assessments, its website said.
According to Loftsgaarden, the property 63 sits on is property owned by Lakeside Management, Loyola’s real estate company which manages retail and residential space around campus that the university has purchased or built.
“Lakeside Management is the entity that holds the leases and everything with the various tenants on behalf of the university,” Loftsgaarden said.
The university earns revenue from rent paid by tenants of each property, according to Loftsgaarden.
Loftsgaarden said the closure was sudden, but the university knew the bar had been experiencing financial problems since spring. He said 63’s management reached out to the university in April or May due to trouble with paying rent.
Hanson recalled instances where the bar ran out of beer and liquor, and said the bar struggled because it mainly relied on Loyola students, who generally would come a few nights a week.
“There were weeks where we had checks bounce or whatever, so we got paid in cash from the register,” Hanson said.
Hanson added he wasn’t paid for his last two weeks of employment at the bar.
Loftsgaarden said 63 wasn’t one of the primary tenants around the university.
“From a financial standpoint, this is extremely minimal,” Loftsgaarden said. “We will work to get another tenant in there or strategically look at what we want to do with that property moving forward.”
63 was one of two main bars near Lake Shore Campus. Bulldog Ale House is now the only student-frequented spot in close proximity.
In March, hundreds of Loyola students filed into 63 to watch the men’s basketball team during the NCAA tournament, The Phoenix reported.
Carla Rogner, a senior journalism major said while she isn’t shocked about the closure, she’s disappointed because of the tradition that 63 carries.
“It was so much fun to go there last year during the basketball games because you were with your entire school and a lot of alumni,” Rogner, 21, said. “It makes me really sad because we don’t really have a lot of places to go around campus to show school spirit or watch games. I’m really curious to see where people will go on Thursday nights.”
The scene at Bar 63 at Loyola. pic.twitter.com/S5Ee5O8vS5
— jon greenberg (@jon_greenberg) March 15, 2018
Kiersten Dietrick, a senior psychology major is the social chair of Phi Sigma Sigma, her sorority on campus, and said she has the responsibility of scheduling events. She said the mixers the sorority holds with other fraternities were often held at 63.
“It’s a little disappointing to try to have to find somewhere else to do it now,” Dietrick, 21, said. “I wish something could have been done to avoid this happening because it’s a very integral part of our campus.”
Hamilton’s Bar and Grill preceded 63 at that address and was in operation for 80 years before the university purchased the property in 2012. “Hammie’s” or “Ham’s” — as many students called it — also closed due to financial problems, The Phoenix reported at the time.
“This one is a little more nostalgic to a degree with Hamilton’s being there and then Bar 63. You never want to see a tenant go,” Loftsgaarden said. “In my mind there is more of that nostalgic component maybe for the neighborhood and of course for Loyola people that have gone there.”