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Detail for O'Lanagan's : Bar / Irish

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There are those Irish bars that wear their shamrocks on their sleeve, proclaiming with all their might that they are true outposts of the Old Sod, that their roots are planted firmly under grass that’s true emerald green. Many of these places are chains, of course (Bennigan’s, etc) and are about as Irish as Steven Spielberg. They attempt to create Irish “theater” for customers because it sells costly pints of Guinness. And then there are bars and public houses that have Irish names because the people who own and operate the place have Irish ancestry, and it’s the family name on the sign outside. Such a place is O’Lanagan’s near the corner of Montrose and Western, down a block from Jerry’s Grill, an open-all-night steak and eggs “Nighthawks” kind of place that’s a perfect place for breakfast after bending a few at O’Lanagan’s. O’Lanagan’s is an Irish-American bar, which means that there’s Budweiser and Miller on draft, and the jukebox has selections ranging from Credence Clearwater Revival and Bob Dylan to Sinatra and The Wallflowers. If you look closely, you might find a Frank Patterson CD somewhere, but the Irish touches here are far more subtle. There’s a small shamrock pasted on the cash register, the place where a bar owner’s field of clover lies, but here there is no hitting anyone over the head with the heavy shillelagh of St. Patrick’s Day marketing. Owner Bob Gonzales, whose mother was Irish, prefers it that way. “I don’t really go in for a lot of the St. Patrick’s Day hoopla,” he says with a trace of world-weariness. “I’ve been in the bar business for twenty-seven years, the past eleven of them right here at O’Lanagan’s, and to me it’s all about having a comfortable neighborhood place.” In that, he succeeds. The regulars line up at the bar, which is lined with pool trophies with gleaming gold figures hunkering atop them with cue stick in hand preparing to sink an ace in the side. The two dart boards are authentic, thick things, and barmaid Dawn, who has an easy rapport with the customers, waxes rhapsodic about the Windy City Dart League players that frequent the place. Steel darters are a different breed from the folks who play on electronic boards with bells and whistles and plastic-tipped darts. The difference between steel and plastic is evident here at O’Lanagan’s, something not lost on Bob Gonzales. “The neighborhood is feeling the squeeze of what you might call the Young Urban Professionals,” he says. “Right now it’s still pretty easy to park on the street, which is nice. Some of those particular customers might prefer a more ethnic beer, but I just run a simple neighborhood place where the beer is cold and the customers come because it’s a nice, comfortable pub.” The beer is indeed cold, delivered in a frosty mug that’s so chilly that a crust of ice forms in the glass. Where some joints might keep their ethnic brews at a little above room temperature, O’Lanagan’s is more arctic in its563 - Mark Andel, 02/12/2003

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