MIRIAM DI NUNZIO
Occupying the space that once housed Toby Keith’s bar and restaurant, the 35,000-square-foot partnership between country music powerhouse Joe’s on Weed and the Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) River North Bub City will combine a 1,500-person live concert venue with restaurant. Bub City chef/partner Doug Psaltis will oversee the menu which will lean heavily toward barbecue, All-American favorites and Southern comfort food.
The Feb. 25 opening will feature a set by Frankie Ballard (“Young & Crazy”). Chris Janson performs Feb. 27, followed by Old Dominion on March 1 and Jamey Johnson on March 3. Tickets for the shows (including opening night) are available at joesliverosemont.com. More shows will be announced soon.
“When the space became available in Rosemont, we went out and looked at it, and as Jerrod [Melman] put it, once we got over the size of the space, we got excited about what we could do there,” said Ed Warm, co-owner of Joe’s Bar on Weed Street in Chicago, and a partner with Melman’s LEYE in the new Rosemont venture (the two entities have been partners for several years at the Bub City on Clark Street.)
The Rosemont site has been completely overhauled (legendary LEYE founder/restaurateur Rich Melman has also been very involved in the concept and design of the new locations) and will feature two separate entrances, one for the two-level Joe’s Live and one for the one-level Bub City. “Bub City will look a lot like Bub City on Clark Street except the stage will be a little bigger and the whole space will be a little wider,” Warm said. The stage area will hold 250-300 patrons. “Joe’s will do between 1,400 and 1,500 for concerts, general admission. The design will be completely different.”
In addition, Joe’s will also feature a balcony area with suites. The sound system, lighting and acoustics have been completely redone and reconfigured, Warm said.
When it comes to booking the music, Joe’s Live will be adopting a formula familiar to that of comedy clubs that book weekend headliners in more than one venue in a particular city.
“We’ve learned that when it comes to the demand for shows, any [artist] who sells out one show on Weed has the ability to do two nights,” Warm said. “So what we’ll be doing now is a Thursday night show in Rosemont and a Friday night at Weed Street. And what’s really gonna be fun is when there’s a big country show at the Allstate or the Rosemont Theatre [up the road] we’ll be able to do something very cool before and after those shows. Perhaps those headliners might even show up here.”
Bub City will feature live music six nights a week, Warm said, while Joe’s Live will be primarily focused on Thursdays through Saturdays, though acts can book any night as schedules allow. In addition to major mainstream performers, local bands, as well as a host of bands out of Nashville and Texas will also be key to the music programming, Warm said.
“Joe’s on Weed is great; were 18 years old, and [we] built it up along the way,” Warm said. “It’ so nice to work with the Melmans and build something very cool like this from scratch.”