Chicago

These Chicago Bars and Restaurants Now Require Vaccination Proof for Entry

When it comes to COVID-19 safety, these local businesses aren't fooling around.

Sleeping Village
Sleeping Village
Sleeping Village

Despite Cubs games packed to the gills, indoor dining at full capacity, sweaty dive bars once again doling out the shots, and record turnouts (and, at least so far, minimal fallout) for reemerging festivals like Lollapalooza, a rise in positive Coronavirus cases statewide and the looming threat of the potent Delta variant suggest that Chicago’s much-hyped hot vax summer might be sliding headfirst into an autumnal crisis. And while that’s a terrifying concept to confront for just about every red-blooded human the city over, it’s especially bone-chilling for anyone with a stake in our city’s beloved dining scene-a sector that is still struggling to regain its footing after the past year’s lockdown-inducing quarantine.

It’s this fear-along with concerns about staff safety and efforts to convince the vaccine-hesitant-that’s motivating bars, restaurants, and event venues across the country to consider instituting vaccine mandates for their patrons. Yet unlike New York, Illinois has yet to announce any laws requiring these types of businesses to require masking or proof of vaccine to gain entry. In response, a growing number of local outposts, from raucous Boystown dance clubs and legendary live music joints to trendy Logan Square eateries and stalwart neighborhood pubs, are taking upon themselves to announce and enforce their own policies when it comes to vaccination status.

mfk.
mfk.
mfk.

Sure, it might sound like a pain in the ass to have to carry your vax card around in your wallet or submit yourself to yet another mind-numbing reCAPTCHA trial courtesy of Vax Verify, the state’s new online COVID vaccine verification portal. But we can assure you that another economy-shattering lockdown is much, much larger pain in the ass-not just for you, but for every Chicago-repping bartender, dishwasher, server, runner, host, restaurateur, brewer, line cook, sommelier, chef, and all the other talented industry folk that make our culinary scene one of the nation’s best and brightest.

Here’s a list of Chicagoland restaurants, bars, and venues that are officially requiring proof of vaccination as of Friday, August 13. Get your shots, pocket your mask, and enjoy the ride.

Fiya
Fiya
Fiya

Restaurants and cafes:

Fiya, Andersonville
D.S. Tequila Company, Boystown
Uncommon Ground, Edgewater
Uncommon Ground, Lakeview
Bonus Round Game Cafe, Lakeview
F. O’Mahony’s, Lakeview
mfk, Lakeview
Baker Miller, Lincoln Square
Giant, Logan Square
Superkhana International, Logan Square
Four Moon Tavern, Roscoe Village
R Public House, Rogers Park
Beat Kitchen, Roscoe Village
Split-Rail, Ukranian Village
City Winery, West Loop

Metropolitan Brewing
Metropolitan Brewing
Metropolitan Brewing

Bars, taprooms, and clubs:

Lizard’s Liquid Lounge, Albany Park
Marty’s Martini Bar, Andersonville
Atmosphere, Andersonville
Replay Andersonville, Andersonville
Metropolitan Brewing, Avondale
Lucky Horseshoe Lounge, Boystown
Progress Bar, Boystown
Scarlet, Boystown
Replay Lakeview, Boystown
Hydrate Nightclub, Boystown
Sidetrack, Boystown
Roscoe’s Tavern, Boystown
Splash Chicago, Boystown
The North End, Boystown
PRYSM, Clybourn Corridor
Berlin Nightclub, Lakeview
Beermiscuous, Lakeview
Elixir Lounge, Lakeview
Burlington Bar, Logan Square
Cole’s Bar, Logan Square
Logan Arcade, Logan Square
Whirlaway Lounge, Logan Square
Kinslahger, Oak Park
Skylark, Pilsen
Koval Distillery, Ravenswood
Spybar, River North
Rogers Park Social, Rogers Park
Le Nocturne, Uptown
Meeting House Tavern, Uptown
Cobra Lounge, West Loop
Beauty Bar Chicago, West Town
Bourbon on Division, Wicker Park
Smartbar, Wrigleyville
GMan Tavern, Wrigleyville
Nisei Lounge, Wrigleyville

Lincoln Hall + Schubas
Lincoln Hall + Schubas
Lincoln Hall + Schubas

Performance venues:

Chicago Magic Lounge, Andersonville
Sleeping Village, Avondale
The Hideout, Elston Industrial Corridor
SPACE, Evanston
Schubas Tavern, Lakeview
Annoyance Theatre & Bar, Lakeview
Logan Square Improv, Logan Square
Golden Dagger, Lincoln Park
Kingston Mines, Lincoln Park
Lincoln Hall, Lincoln Park
Constellation, North Center
Thalia Hall, Pilsen
Radius, Pilsen
Empty Bottle, Ukrainian Village
Subterranean, Wicker Park
Metro Chicago, WrigleyvilleWant more Thrillist? Follow us on InstagramTwitterPinterestYouTubeTikTok, and Snapchat.

Meredith Heil is a Senior Cities Editor at Thrillist. She floats like hovercrafts and stings like vaccinations; when her name’s said out loud, you’ll lose your concentration. Hit her up @mereditto.

Chicago

Robyn DaCultyre Is Doing It for the Culture

"The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone."

Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi
Photo by Kayode Omoyosi

I was introduced to Robyn DaCultyre at an Untitled Queen show at C’mon Everybody in late January, and it was one of the most unique drag shows I’d seen in a while. Afterwards, I tracked down this self-described “drag creature” and video chatted about her drag origin story, the state of drag in her native Ohio, and the dual identities that make up her persona. Thrillist: I want to ask you about how Robyn DaCultyre came about and your point of view behind your performance.

Robyn DaCultyre: I’ve been travelling around the country from a young age in ministry and Christian studies. I moved to Chicago right after high school. Four years later, moved back to Columbus and decided I didn’t really want to do church anymore; that wasn’t where my heart was.

I had a really low point in my life and had a suicide attempt and then really found drag and started doing drag as a coping mechanism and way to let off steam. I started in July of 2019, and it was really a lot of punk and metal music. I created this drag creature of sorts and they were really out of this world and celestial and all of those fun alien type terms.

And then we went into a global pandemic and I had a lot of time to figure out who I wanted to be. Digitally I was still doing a lot of drag creature-esque numbers and all of that, but I had this moment where we’re on the front lines getting hit with pepper spray and rubber bullets and pepper spray-all of those lovely things. And I said, I have this platform and I need to start showcasing what’s happening.

Untitled [Queen] stepped in at the right time and messaged me and said, “I’m doing this show for Independence Day called Untitled in America with 52 different performers and I want you to be a part of it.” It was at that moment I was able to take the footage I had been recording on the front lines and incorporate it into digital content. I did a song called Black Like Me by Mickey Guyton that talks about white picket fences, but if you want to see how America is, then you should try being Black like me. The imagery of what’s literally happening in Columbus in that digital performance really spearheaded me into focusing on people who look like me.

Nina Simone is one of my biggest inspirations, and one of her quotes that resonates with me is that it’s the duty of the artist to resonate with the times. My art is politically charged. I like to entertain, but there will definitely be a time when you come to a show expecting to have your drink and be chill and that might not be the case.

How did the name Robyn DaCultyre come about?

I was smoking with Ursula Major, who was on season one of Dragula, and the first time I introduced myself to her I was Robyn Banks, which is my drag name originally. She said, “Well, do you just not want to be original at all?” [Laughs] And I sat with that for a couple of months, and I got really stoned one day and was listening to Janelle Monae, and she talks about doing it for the culture, and I said “I do it for the culture, too!” And the rest is history.

And you started a series called Melanated.

We started Melanated last February. I told the idea to my show director that there were no shows specifically run by Black people that only featured Black entertainers. I wanted to do this show for a night and she said, Why don’t we do it once a week for the whole month? The first show happens, and it’s a sold out crowd, and [my director] comes back and says we should do this every month. So I sucked it up and here we are a year later.

Melanated is the only fully Black show in all of the state. It’s a horrible marketing tool and not something I want to promote, but it is just a fact. It amazes me that we are the 13th largest city in America and there’s nothing here that’s fully focused on Black entertainers. The name also comes from Janelle Monae; she says she’s highly melanated and I said, that works.

Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)
Photos by Chay Creates LLC (left) and Bridget Caswell (right)

You refer to yourself as a drag creature, as opposed to drag queen or king…

This is actually the first time I’m making this public. I am in this place where I want to separate the alternative creature from who this melanated goddess or whatever is. DaCultyre is definitely the person who runs Melanated and then Robyn is this drag creature that is out of this world and really loves punk and alternative music. And both intertwine to make Robyn DaCultyre.

You also do pageants. Tell me about that.

In 2020 I was appointed by Nina West, who is from Columbus, as the representative from Ohio for National Entertainer of the Year in Louisville, Kentucky. I placed ninth out of 13 contestants and I really fell in love with the system and fell in love with the pageantry and loved the idea of reigning and being different. I want to show that we as alternative performers, as bearded performers, you can come into these systems and shake things up.

Is there a uniquely “Ohio” style of drag?

No, and I think that’s one of the things that makes it so amazing is that everyone has their own unique style, and it’s all pretty much accepted. I started as a performer and a drag creature and there was space that was afforded to me and I transitioned to more glamor and pageantry and that’s afforded to me as well. I’ve been a bearded entertainer for a year now. The cool thing about Ohio is that there is literally a place for everyone.

I think I have everything I need. Is there anything else I didn’t ask you about that you want to bring up, or‚Ķ

I don’t think so. Are there any generic questions you haven’t asked?

Generic questions‚ĶI think I asked all of them already [laughs]. I like to ask what you’d be doing if you weren’t doing drag?

It’s a great question. I have a day job that is very demanding so I need drag to get away. I’m also very creative and artistic. I used to do web design and all these other things to pull into my creativity. Drag is the longest thing I’ve stuck with in all parts of my life, so I don’t think it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

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John deBary¬†is a drinks expert and writer. His first cocktail book,¬†Drink What You Want, is available now, and his next book,¬†Saved by the Bellini, is expected in early 2023. He is also the co-founder and president of the¬†Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the lives of hospitality industry professionals through advocacy, grant making, and impact investing.

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