Penny Road Pub to close Jan. 31, but there's hope for a return
Penny Road Pub, a live rock 'n' roll venue nestled among the trees of the Barrington area for nearly 50 years, will close its doors at the end of January.
But General Manager Kelly Cunningham said Monday that the shutdown may not be permanent. The building's relatively new owner hopes to buy time to work with Cook County on getting the property rezoned for the improvements he wants to make, she said.
If things work out as planned, Penny Road Pub could return but even better, she said.
"There is hope," Cunningham added. "He has some beautiful plans for it."
The combination of a new owner along with the loss of some of the property's grandfathered rights, COVID-19 and the cost of the planned improvements have created financial issues that make it easier to shut down and handle one thing at a time, Cunningham said.
The pub's grandfathered 4 a.m. liquor license probably won't return, as Cook County doesn't give them out anymore, she added.
"That was our bread-and-butter, so to speak, for many years," Cunningham said.
The news of the imminent closing was announced on social media Sunday.
"We will miss all of the patrons, bands, events, employees, and people who have supported us all of these years," management posted on its Facebook page.
A "Farewell to Penny Road" concert is scheduled from 5 p.m. to 10:55 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, featuring the bands Bad Motor Scooter, Blizzard of Rhoads and Vicious Circle.
Former owner Dave Sanfilippo announced back in 2015 that he was putting Penny Road Pub up for sale. But that hoped-for change of ownership didn't occur until early this year.
In a 2003 interview, Sanfilippo told the Daily Herald that the 1853 building his father bought and began running at 545 Penny Road in 1972 had been operating as a pub for more than a century.
"I think it has been a gin mill since the end of the 1800s," he said.
When his father first bought it, Penny Road Pub consisted of one room -- about a third of its current size -- a small kitchen and a basement.
In the mid-'90s, the family expanded the main bar and kitchen, added a rooftop beer garden, vaulted ceiling and skylights, and enlarged the basement.
"I thought it was time to grow," Sanfilippo said.