(keep reading to learn what happened)
Season: 1 | View All Season 1 Episodes
Original Episode Air Date: July 31, 2011
The Bar's Original Name Was: The Abbey
The Abbey Address: 3420 W Grace St, Chicago, IL 60618
The Abbey Pub, later renamed The Green Room at The Abbey, was a Chicago, Illinois bar featured on Season 1 of Bar Rescue.
Though The Abbey Bar Rescue episode aired in July 2011, the actual filming and visit from Jon Taffer took place before that.
It was Season 1 Episode 3 and the official episode name was “Shabby Abbey”.
The Abbey Pub is located in Chicago, IL.
The pub was opened up twenty-four years before Taffer’s visit by Tom Looney, an Irish immigrant.
The club is more than an Irish pub; it is also a music venue.
In fact, it’s a very celebrated and historic music venue in Chicago.
In the beginning, Abbey Pub was very successful and brought in $50,000 most weeks.
Tom’s son Pat ran the bar for fifteen years and the bar was a hotbed for up-and-coming bands, which made it very popular with music fans.
Pat left to pursue his dream of becoming a fireman, so his other son, Tom Jr., became the bar manager.
Since then, the business has been declining, which is why it’s in need of help from Jon Taffer and the Bar Rescue crew.
The bartender, Krysten, is very frustrated with the state of the bar.
There is a lot of tension between the brothers.
Tom Sr. and his wife want to retire but can’t.
They are three months away from losing the bar.
The Abbey Pub is separated into two sections. The venue section and the bar section.
Chief O’Neils is their competitor, so Jon goes there for a drink to see what is making them so successful.
Nicole, Jon’s wife, heads in to do recon.
Nicole tells Jon the restaurant’s furniture is stained, and there is trash lying around.
The general manager isn’t working and is sitting down eating.
The venue side is packed, but the bar is empty.
They are losing big money by not getting the venue side over to the bar side.
Jon heads into The Abbey Pub bar to meet the owners and discuss the bar’s future.
Tom Jr and his brother Pat see the bar in two different ways.
Master of whiskey, Peter O’Conner, goes through Abbey Pub to find its issues.
Peter says the bar is disorganized, and the bartenders overpour.
Expert chef Brian Duffy also comes in for the recon. He meets with the owners to tour the kitchen.
Jon then meets with everyone and is told by Chef Brian Duffy that the menu needs an upgrade.
The family then discusses Tom Jr as a good fit for a manager.
The family tells Tom Jr. what they expect from him.
Peter tests the staff’s ability to make drinks, and Chef Brian tests their skills in the kitchen.
Peter then shows the staff new recipes, and Chef Brian trains the staff on the new menu.
The Abbey Pub has a soft opening, and the team is quickly overwhelmed.
Tom Jr. can’t keep up with the food orders, but the customers do love the food.
The Abbey Pub’s name is changed to The Green Room at the Abbey.
The staff sees the changes, and the relaunch begins.
The bar is packed, and Tom Jr steps up, feeling optimistic.
So was The Abbey Pub Bar Rescue episode a long-term success? Keep reading our update to learn what happened next and if The Green Room at The Abbey is still open in 2023 and beyond.
The Abbey Update - What Happened Next?
After The Abbey Bar Rescue episode, the bar seemed to be doing much better.
They went from being three months away from the bar closing to successfully running the bar for a number of years.
However, the success would not last forever…but not because it was a bad business, necessarily.
In 2015, the owners of The Abbey sold the building that it was in to raise money.
After selling the property, they then negotiated a lease with the new owner of the building.
However, a 2015 fire gutted The Abbey and led to its closure.
The Abbey Chicago fire was also featured on an episode of Back to the Bar.
I can’t find a full clip, but you can see a lot of footage of the burned building in this YouTube clip – it’s really sad…
After the fire, the Looneys got into a legal battle with the new building’s owner.
The Looney family was demolishing the damaged interior of the bar with plans to rebuild it.
However, the new owner refused to fully cover the repairs.
The Looneys wanted $500,000 to cover the repairs, but the new owners only offered $250,000 and then $300,000.
The lawsuit was filed over the Looney’s claim that the new owners broke an agreement to allow the Looneys to rebuild The Abbey.
While we’re not sure what happened with the lawsuit, we are confident that the Looneys were not successful.
In a January 2016 Facebook post, you can see them say that they were starting renovations:
However, the renovations never worked out and the Looneys were not able to reopen.
Is The Abbey still open?
The Abbey closed in 2015 due to a fire at the building.
After the fire, the Looney family were trying to reopen The Abbey, but they were not able to successfully do it because of disputes with the landlord.
In 2019, a new group of investors announced plans to reopen The Abbey Chicago at the same location.
You can learn more about this in this article from Block Club Chicago.
However, the new version of The Abbey has no connection to the original owners.
That, combined with the fact that the Looneys are in a dispute over the property is why we’re still marking The Abbey as closed.
If the Looney’s had given their blessing, I would mark it as Open. But I can’t do that since the Looneys are not involved at all.
Sadly, they’re unlikely to be, as Tom passed away in 2022 – more on that below.
With that being said, there does seem to be a new The Abbey open at the original The Abbey Chicago location as of 2022.
The new bar also has a new website at Chicago Abbey.com.
The website confirms that the new version of The Abbey Pub has no connection with the Looneys:
In 1974 Abbey open its first venue in Chicago and soon the word spread.
We added extra footage.
Over 45000 acts have performed and passed through its stage
Although we are no longer affiliated with the original ownership, we are responsible for the entire new concept, including the creation of the new redesign Music Venue, an addition of the Mezz bar and lounge concept, VIP Room and a new menu.
We gave it a new name Abbey Chicago and was opened with new ideas and Chef Bernard recipes designed to fit All palate for an international flair cuisine
Here’s a Google Maps street view image of the Abbey Pub Chicago location – you can see that the original The Abbey Pub sign is no longer there:
But again, this new version of The Abbey has no connection to the Looneys, who were the Abbey owners from the Bar Rescue episode, at least as far as I can tell.
That’s why I still have this marked as closed.
The Abbey Pub reviews after Bar Rescue
At the time that the fire closed The Green Room at The Abbey to close for good, the bar had an overall 3 star rating on its Yelp page.
Here’s a sampling of a few reviews that were written after the visit from Jon Taffer…
4 star Yelp review from March 2015:
We checked this place out after seeing it on a Bar Rescue episode.
The staff was great and the food was very good.
We loved the Irish spring rolls, mac & cheese, and the fish & chips.
Music in the Green Room was nice.
We would go back sometime when we’re back in the city.
3 star Yelp review from April 2013:
Had been to The Abbey on various occasions for dancing and drinks ; which I’ve always had a great time.
By the same assumption ; a friend of mine and myself decided to go and try the remodeled “Green Room at The Abbey” by Bar Rescue last Thursday.
Food: We both ordered wings . One in bbq and the other in Guinness.
They were “ok”. Nothing to brag about. Although , I must admit that I was expecting better food.
Place : The place is relatively small but comfortable. Being a Thursday , we had options of where to sit.
Service : Friendly waitress and bouncer. ++
Pro & Con : There was a live band playing that night of which were awesome . This is the pro .
The con is that the volume was WAY to high. We had to wait for the song to be over in order to have a conversation.
All in all, I would go back again . Could have been an off night for them .
Overall, a lot of the reviews that specifically mention Bar Rescue seem to be negative.
You can click here to view all of the Abbey Pub reviews that reference the Bar Rescue episode.
What happened to Tom Looney (The Abbey owner)?
Tom Looney was the owner of The Abbey from the Bar Rescue episode.
Sadly, Tom passed away in July 2022 at age 81 of complications due to Covid-19.
You can read a very nice obituary in the Chicago Sun Times.
RIP Tom – I’m sorry that that stupid fire got in the way of The Abbey.
That finishes my The Abbey Chicago Bar Rescue update!
Thanks for reading!
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Last updated: 2023-02-16 06:35