Chicago Tribune

Old-school Chicago bar and restaurant Miller’s Pub closed this week to undergo its first renovations since 1989.

The pub, an institution on Wabash Avenue, also is taking over a vacated flower shop next door. The 900-square-foot space will hold 60 to 70 extra seats, co-owner Andrew Gallios said. Miller’s Pub is set to reopen in early March following the $1 million overhaul.

In addition to the dining room expansion, the balcony will be transformed into an area for private parties, and the kitchen will be fully rehabilitated. The bar area will get some larger tables to accommodate groups, and the entryway will be rearranged for an increasing number of carryout orders. The old-school decor that gives the joint some of its charm, however, will remain the same.

“Same decor and ambiance, same staff, same owners, same menu. We want people to know we’re happy with what we had before,” Gallios said. “If we want to stay open another 40 years, there are some upgrades and changes and improvements that need to be made.”

The Miller’s Pub sign that juts out over Wabash also will remain in place.

Miller’s Pub first opened in a space across the street in 1935 and moved to its current location in 1989, Gallios said. The stained glass and pictures that adorned the walls in the first iteration of the restaurant made it through the move then too.

The pub’s renovations are occurring as its landlord, Cedar Street Cos., converts the offices that once filled the 12-story building into 176 apartments. Chicago-based Cedar Street bought the building in 2016 and worked to vacate and relocate tenants and secure financing before starting the conversion, said Erik Larson, managing director of finance at Cedar Street.

Cedar Street and Miller’s Pub join the city and other developers in investing in the gritty Wabash Avenue. The $75 million Washington-Wabash ‘L’ station opened last year, the first of its kind in the Loop in 20 years. Restaurants, including Goddess and the Baker and Good Stuff Eatery, have been flocking to the street in recent years. The Chicago Loop Alliance has been working to make the street, most of which is in the shadow of elevated train tracks, more inviting. Developer Thomas Roszak also is planning a residential tower on Randolph Street near Wabash.

“The Loop has really been transforming in as recently as five years,” Larson said. “It’s become a residential neighborhood, so we saw an opportunity there.”

Chicago Tribune—Ally Marotti