Four months after it was forced to close in response to the coronavirus pandemic, one of Tucson’s oldest blues bars announced on Sunday that it will not reopen.
The owners of Chicago Bar, a fixture for Tucson blues fans and musicians alike since 1978, announced the closure on Facebook, saying that the financial burden of being mostly closed since March 17 took its toll.
“It is with a heavy heart that I say Chicago Bar will not be re-opening,” owner Jennifer Lorraine wrote.
The announcement came less than a month after the bar had reopened on May 24, and two weeks after owners hinted in a post that they were reevaluating plans after the governor imposed a one-week curfew June 2 prompted by Tucson protests in support of the national Black Lives Matter movement.
Lorraine could not be reached to comment and did not respond to a written interview request, but on Facebook, she recounted the role Chicago Bar had played in many of its customers’ lives.
“This is a place where countless people have enjoyed dancing the night away, listening to their favorite band, met their significant other, sang karaoke, watched the Bears games, ordered a Kersilk, people watched, joked around with their favorite bartender, met up with friends for a night out, sat in on a gig, or played on our stage,” she wrote. “Chicago Bar has been a Tucson institution for many decades and it will be greatly missed.”
Chicago Bar, at 5954 E. Speedway, had filled up with Chicago Bears fans in the fall and Chicago Cubs fans in the summertime.
Fans of the bar chimed in with memories and condolences.
“This breaks my heart,” wrote Tucson restaurateur Wendy Gauthier, chef-owner of Chef Chic Cafe and catering. “I’m so sorry.”
“I’ll always remember the great times I had there,” said Tucson musician Jacob Acosta, who regularly played Chicago Bar.
The news reached fans in Tucson and beyond, including North Carolina blueswoman Heidi Holton, who performed at Chicago Bar’s open mic when she was in Tucson.
“I’m so sorry for this loss. ... Big hugs from NC,” she wrote.
“Chicago Bar hit all the notes,” a longtime customer, Jeff Segneri, wrote. “Great staff, and fun chance encounters. A rite of passage lost for the next wave. Thank you.”