The Harding Tavern (@thtlogan, 2732 N. Milwaukee Ave.) recently opened with little fanfare on the western end of Milwaukee Avenue. The tavern is the newest venture from Logan Square based restaurateur, Esam Hani.
Designed with Logan Square in Mind
Staff says The Harding Tavern has a different feel than Hani’s other Logan Square businesses, including Café Con Leche/D’Noche (@CafeDNoche 2701 N. Milwaukee Ave) and Red Star Convenient Liquors store (2715 N. Milwaukee Ave.) The tavern reflects his vision of what Logan Square residents expect from the neighborhood.
Marketing and Event Manager, Jennifer Bryson, worked closely with him to create the vision for The Harding Tavern.
“Esam is such a big part of the community, and he is involved with so much,” she says. “He wanted The Harding Tavern to be completely different than his other ventures. He did not want overlap in concept or cuisine.”
There will be televised sports, but Bryson was quick to point out that it is “not a sports bar.” The televisions are more an afterthought to the décor of the bar, she adds.
“What’s on the Chalkboard?”
The focal point behind the bar is an old fashioned blackboard with listings that change almost daily. Patrons can see what the specials are for the day by checking out what’s on the chalkboard.
There are classic cocktails on the regular menu. The Manhattan is their number one requested beverage. The Rabbit Trap is an original creation of their bartender, Tom, and in their first week was the second most popular drink. General Manager Scott Kupferschmidt says he wanted his bartenders to have some ownership of the menu.
“All the bartenders made their own drinks and the staff voted on it,” he says.
Kupferschmidt collaborated with Kent Weber, the Logan Square based beer expert and founder of Beer FX, on the beer menu.
“The goal of the draft is to try to offer things that are local, seasonally relevant and many of them are fairly unique,” Kupferschmidt says. He adds that the bar offers “a broad range of style, ABV, and hopefully something for everyone on the bottles and cans list.”
The menu offers a twist on traditional tavern fare, and includes everything from small plates to hearty meals. Menu features include hot wings in different flavors, such as wasabi and buffalo with blue cheese crumbles.
“I love the entire menu, but especially the pork belly skewer. Also, I love the mac and cheese. It’s very decadent,” Bryson says.
History of the Harding Theater
According to Bryson, it was important for the neighborhood’s history be a part of the new bar. When it was discovered that The Harding Theater was the building’s resident from 1925-1963, it was a no-brainer.
“It was a lot of fun researching,” Bryson says.
The tavern also features photos of the original façade inside the bar for patrons interested in the history of the building.
The hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 11 AM to 2 AM, and weekends open at 10 AM for brunch.