Food Service & Agriculture, Real Estate, and Retail

Bar chain plans Chicago location

March 23, 2016
| By Pat Evans |
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HopCat in downtown Grand Rapids ranks as one of the top beer bars in both the world and nation. Photo by Adam Bird

A locally based bar chain has found where it wants to be in Chicago.

The Chicago news site DNAinfo reports that HopCat is looking at Clark Street in Chicago for its next location.

Citing a letter by Chicago’s 43rd Ward Alderman Michele Smith, the DNAinfo article posted last week says HopCat is looking at a zoning change for the former Vapiano restaurant, at 2577 N. Clark St., and was scheduled to hold a community meeting yesterday in the neighborhood.

In part of the proposal, HopCat is seeking to renovate the building.

In the letter to the community, Smith says she will not take a position on the application or pass the application on to the Chicago City Council Committee on Zoning until “they fulfill our community review process and the community is able to provide input on this restaurant proposal.”


HopCat recently opened a location in Lincoln, Nebraska, its eighth location. The chain’s other locations are the original in Grand Rapids, East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Detroit, Indianapolis, Madison, Wisconsin and Lexington, Kentucky.

Louisville, Kentucky is another location in the pipeline. Future locations could include cities such as Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Omaha, Nebraska and Columbus, Ohio.

HopCat was founded in 2008 and has been named to numerous “best” beer bar rankings.

Last September, HopCat received an investment of $25 million from a Texas-based investor and announced plans to expand to 30 locations within the next five years with a focus on Midwest college towns.

The bar chain’s parent company, BarFly Ventures, also owns Stella’s Lounge, Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and The Waldron Public House. 


BarFly Ventures formally announced Friday that it plans to open HopCat Chicago this summer at the location.

The Chicago location will feature 130 beers and hard ciders on tap, including more than 50 Illinois-made beers on tap every day, more than 200 beers and hard ciders in bottles and cans and a "full" food menu. 

“I lived and worked in the city of Chicago for 10 years and consider it a second home, with one of the world’s greatest restaurant and bar scenes,” said Mark Sellers, founder of HopCat and BarFly Ventures. “We looked at many locations in Chicago over several years and decided on this spot in Lincoln Park, because of its walkability, history and sense of community.” 

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