Bar Rescue - The Abbey Pub - CLOSED

The Abbey Pub Bar Rescue

In this episode of Bar Rescue, Jon Taffer visits The Abbey Pub in Chicago, Illinois.

The Abbey Pub is a legendary Chicago landmark.

Twenty four years ago, Irish immigrant Tom Looney and his family bought The Abbey, an Irish pub and music venue.

With Tom’s son Pat running the bar as general manager for more than 15-years, The Abbey became a hotbed for up-and-coming bands.

In the beginning, they were taking up to $50,000 most weeks.

Three years ago, Pat pursued his dream and became a fireman.

His brother Tom Jr quit his job to take over as general manager.

Under Tom, The Abbey’s sales plummeted.

Pat says their volume now may be around $10,000 a week.

The bar is a mess and nothing gets fixed.

Bartender Krysten says she is very frustrated at the state of the bar.

Tom Sr and his wife would like to retire and tension has caused issues between the brothers.

They are just three months away from losing the family business forever.

They agree to make a call for help to Bar Rescue.

Chicago, Illinois, is the third-largest city in the U.S.

Irving Park is home to 58,000 individuals.

The majority of which are young, single professionals with plenty of disposable income.

The Abbey is separated into two sections, the pub side and the music venue.

The two different sides of the bar are separated by 10 feet.

Most people go to the bar for the concerts.

When there are no concerts, the bar is mostly empty.

Jon and his wife Nicole check out the bar’s competition.

They go to Chief O’Neil’s to see what makes this bar a great competitor.

Jon sends Nicole to The Abbey.

Nicole says that the first thing she noticed was that there are stains everywhere and there’s trash lying around.

Jon orders a Guinness.

Nicole asks for a drink menu but the bartender says that she doesn’t have a menu she can give to her.

Nicole is surprised that there isn’t a menu.

Jon says that the bar he is at is a great bar.

Nicole says the bartender is over-pouring.

The general manager of The Abbey sits down with a plate of food to eat.

Nicole says that the general manager shouldn’t be sitting down and eating food.

She says that he should be managing the bar, making sure the bartenders don’t over-pour.

The venue side of the bar is packed with people.

Nicole says that this bar is losing big money by not getting people from the venue side over to the bar.

Jon meets with Nicole in the bar to discuss what she discovered.

Jon heads into the bar to meet the owners and discuss the bar.

Jon tells them to get the family together and meet in the office to confront them about the realities of a failing business.

Tom Jr blames the staff for how the bar is but Tom Sr blames the owners.

Pat and Tom Jr are looking at this bar in two different ways.

The next morning, Jon meets with the staff.

Jon brings in master of whiskey Peter O’Conner for the bar.

Jon brings in expert chef Brian Duffy for the kitchen.

Peter goes through the bar to see all of the issues.

Peter now has a sense of the over-pouring and disorganization.

Chef Brian Duffy meets with their chef Greg and Tom and Pat Looney to tour the kitchen.

The main fridge is out of order, yet they are still using it.

Chef Duffy says that these are the last stages before a restaurant dies.

The concert side of the bar is in need of some major upgrades as well.

Jon tells Pat that they need to have a family meeting tonight because Pat doesn’t think his brother is ready to run the bar.

Jon and his experts begin training the staff.

Chef Duffy starts by having Greg prepare a few popular menu items to see what needs to be changed.

Peter tests the bartenders’ abilities to make simple drinks.

Peter goes over how over-pouring is not good.

Chef Duffy says that they need to upgrade the recipes.

Jon meets with the family to go over the new concept.

They discuss on whether Tom Jr is a good fit for manager.

Jon leaves the family to figure out whether to keep Tom Jr as manager or not.

They to decide to let Tom Jr another chance.

The next morning Jon meets with the staff to discuss how to proceed from here.

He tells Tom Jr what he is expecting from him from here on out.

They begin taking down things around the bar.

Tom Jr is proving that he has what it takes to continue as general manager.

Peter meets with the staff to show them drinks that will be added to the new menu.

Chef Brian Duffy presents the newly updated menu with the staff.

The staff tries out the new recipes and they love it.

The Abbey opens up for the soft opening.

Jon has brought around 100 people tonight.

The flood of food orders has put unfamiliar stress on the staff.

They are struggling to keep up and the bar runs out of clean plates.

Tom Jr is trying to keep up but it is difficult.

The customers are loving the new food and drinks.

One of the servers is eating on the clock.

Tom Jr fires the server.

Jon gathers the staff to discuss their performance.

Jon begins construction on The Abbey.

The Abbey has been renamed and is now called The Green Room @ The Abbey.

The staff heads inside the bar to see all of the changes.

The staff are amazed by how nice their bar looks now.

The Abbey opens up for relaunch.

On relaunch, the bar is packed with people.

Tom is stepping up as general manager.

The family feels a lot better about where this bar is going.

Jon says that his work is done.


What Happened Next at The Abbey Pub?

Thirty days after relaunch, Tom remains as general manager.

The Looneys made two bartenders assistant manager to help him.

The Abbey’s sales have increased by 20%.

They sold the building in June 2015 and entered into a lease with the new owner of the building.

The Abbey closed in November 2015 following a fire and a water leak and they hoped to reopen.

A gofund me page was set up and currently stands at $13,000, Jon donated $2500 himself.

The owners of the bar entered into a legal battle with the landlord after asking them to contribute to costs of reopening.

Their lease was terminated in March 2017 and they began legal action against the landlord at this time.

A new group of owners planned to reopen the bar in 2019, despite the legal action and it reopened as Chicago Abbey in 2019.

Click for more Bar Rescues

Previous episode - Downey's Irish Pub

Next episode - Kilkenny's Irish Pub / Breakwall Bar and Grill

This post was last updated in September 2021.

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