Grand reopening of the popular Andersonville bar
By Grace Ghee, Annelise Taylor and Mackenzie Kokal, Loyola Sophomores
Chicago fan favorite bar and restaurant, Hopleaf, reopened on April 1 after being closed for five months.
After being open 365 days a year for more than 28 years, COVID-19 has shut down business. This forced loyal customers to turn to other pubs and dedicated staff to wait for a questionable reopening.
Prioritizing the safety of customers and employees was at the forefront of Hopleaf’s decision-making, forcing not one, but two closures. In March, they closed until summer, when it was sure to have outdoor seating, but as the cold Chicago winter approached, they chose to close again for keep everyone healthy.
Hopleaf owner Michael Roper discussed the difficulties he and his team faced during the pandemic and the much anticipated reopening.
Roper said, “Back last summer and especially early winter, you know, it seemed like that was it. We were done. We weren’t going to reopen and our business was doomed to shut down forever. “
Hopleaf, like many other restaurants, struggled deeply during this time. There were expenses to pay, no cash flow and countless community members were affected by their closure.
Asked about the hardest part of it all, Roper said: “We had to lay off all our staff and for many of them it was catastrophic. Fortunately, most of them are incredibly resilient and have found a way and we haven’t lost any of the key people who have been with us, some of them for 25 years.
While firing staff members proved to be extremely difficult, further difficulties were yet to come as they faced the looming decline in accumulated finances.
Roper said: “We did a big expansion in 2012 where we bought the building next door and almost doubled our space. It was a very expensive project. We spent two and a half million dollars on it, so we had loans to pay back, we rented equipment. These invoices keep coming whether you are open or not.
After all the tough times of the past year, Roper, staff and customers are all extremely excited to return.
Matt Chavez, radio host on di.fm and local foodie, said: “I am delighted that they are reopening! I’m glad to see a business making a comeback after COVID. When I tell people where I live, nine times out of ten, they refer to Hopleaf. And for good reason! It’ll be normal again, going to Hopleaf after work, with a mate for giant beers and tasty apps. It should be on EVERYBODY’s must-have list.
Hopleaf is not only a favorite with local fans, but also attracts the attention of students. With quality alcohol choices, it’s a perfect change of pace from the typical college sports bar.
Roper said: “We’ve always been a popular place for students to come during the day and study, as you can sit there with a beer and a glass of wine, set up a booth and take out your laptop, or grab your books and start studying.
For those concerned about safety precautions, Hopleaf has got you covered. They take COVID-19 very seriously because they don’t want their staff or customers to feel unsafe.
Safety being the first priority, said Roper: “Some places that have reopened have claimed it is 2019 again and we are always going to be exceptionally careful. People will be seated at tables and we have installed a plexiglass partition between the cabins. We will strictly limit ourselves to the 50% capacity. We don’t want to be that place where someone has gone and caught COVID-19, not at this point. “
All that being said, Hopleaf will reopen on April 1, no April Fool’s jokes here.
Hopeful, Roper said: “I think this is handled better and I am very optimistic that at the end of this we will thrive again.”
Click here for more information Hop bar