Wire, a music venue and bar, used to form with nearby FitzGerald’s a twin bill of live entertainment on Roosevelt Road in Berwyn. Then the pandemic hit, upsetting even the best-laid business plans.
The owners of Wire have been forced to put their well-equipped club up for sale. It’s been closed completely since March 2020 and co-owner Christopher Neville said he saw no other way out of escalating losses.
He said he hopes the two-story building can be sold to someone who wants to keep using it for live music. “It would be nice to reopen but we were just getting deeper into a hole,” said Neville, also a member and manager of the local band Tributosaurus.
“It’s been a great ride. As a musician, it’s been interesting to be on the other side of the counter,” he said.
The building at 6815 W. Roosevelt Road is a former movie theater that dates from 1918. It’s marketed by Realtor David King of David King & Associates, who noted that Neville’s group undertook a gut rehab after buying it in 2012. Before that, it was a hall for a Teamsters union local.
“It’s set up as a music venue. The sound systems and the lighting systems are all staying. This is really a turnkey solution for someone,” King said.
It’s being offered with no upfront asking price. Property records show Neville’s group paid $205,000 for the building in 2012. King and Neville said there have been several inquiries since it was listed about seven weeks ago.
Neville said the space can be configured for 250 to 400 people, depending on the seating plan. At 8,500 square feet, the building includes a 35-foot bar and a second floor for VIP seating, according to the listing.
The region’s halting progress against the pandemic has caused confusion about when live events can return and be financially viable. FitzGerald’s, at 6615 W. Roosevelt Road, has gotten by with limited-capacity performances in its outdoor patio, but no such space was available to Wire.
Neville said he’d face costs to restart even in a modest form and that warmer weather isn’t the prime season for indoor venues anyway. “I’m just grateful to my investors for helping us get this far. We wanted to keep the place out of the tax sale,” he said.
His partners in Wire include musician Tracey Dear and sound engineer Jon Smith. Paul Bolger, part of the rock group Mr. Blotto, is a former partner, Neville said.
Wire’s situation continues a sad storyline for performing arts establishments. Chicago’s Second City comedy business has been sold and plans to continue, but the improv hub iO Theater and Mercury Theater Chicago have closed for good. The Chicago Tribune has reported that the Royal George Theatre may be sold for redevelopment.