PORTAGE PARK – Three longtime friends and bartenders are opening a plant-themed bar this month in Portage Park.
Moonflower, 4359 N. Milwaukee Ave., replaces Hops and Barley, a sports bar that closed in October. Business partners Zach Rivera, Marvin Boeving and Christina Chae hope to open by the end of November.
The trio said Moonflower will be an affordable place that they hope will attract younger customers and offer something different from the many sports bars on the Northwest Side.
“We love the idea of bringing a concept to a neighborhood that doesn’t exist yet, and filling a void there and being able to build and grow with the neighborhood,” Rivera said.
Moonflower will serve cocktails, draft beers, and comfort food to share, like Bolognese fries, country ham fritters, grilled cheeses, melting patties, leek potato soup and salads. The drink menu will include classic cocktails, like Manhattans and Negronis, and quirky cocktails, like a gin and lime infused with coconut and rice.
Customers can also expect cocktails that reflect the team’s cultural backgrounds, such as Korean pop and a German version of an Old Fashioned.
“We try to be unique, but also representative of our origins,” said Rivera.
Moonflower will also feature many greens, earth tones, and plants throughout the space. The team will work with a local artist to decorate the space and hope to work with local stores to obtain houseplants.
“The goal for us is to partner with as many businesses, individuals and people in the community to keep things as close to our surroundings as possible,” Rivera said. “We’ll also look to partner with a local school or charity whenever we do fundraisers and things like this. “
Moonflower is also planning a underground underground bar called Nightshade with different plants, dim lighting and its own menu of music and drinks. It should open a month after Moonflower debuts, Rivera said.
It’s “kind of like a date versus upstairs, which is just the place where friends and family can meet and hang out,” Rivera said.
Rivera and Marvin worked at Hogsalt Hospitality, the group behind restaurants like Au Cheval and Bavette’s. Rivera is also the Director of Beverages at 16 on Center Restaurant Group. Chae works at Celeste, a bar, restaurant and club in River North.
The three have worked together before and have remained friends. After recognizing their mutual values of hospitality and service, they discussed starting a business together.
Now Rivera has said he and his friends are eagerly awaiting to see how Portage Park reacts to the bar.
“We’re really just regular people all three of us – not with a ton of money,” Rivera said. “Over the years we’ve just scratched off whatever we can put together, and we’re lucky to be able to open this business just the three of us without any outside investors or anything like that. ”
Check Moonflower’s social media pages for opening dates and more information.
“Our three faces will be here pretty much every day. And so we’re really excited to be able to do it as a home-made effort, ”said Rivera.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: