Richard’s Bar in River West Stays Ignoring the Rules, Just How They Like Iton December 15, 2020 at 7:20 pm

Richard’s Bar doesn’t care for your state-ordered shutdown. In fact, Richard’s Bar doesn’t care much about anything, and hasn’t, since it opened in 1926 and the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that with a large, shining, spotlight.

Richard’s Bar is a River West landmark. Hell, it’s a Chicago landmark. It’s known for a lot, sought out by a few, tends to be rough around the edges in the classic Chicago kind of way. Almost as if Shameless the TV show was turned into a popular bar. You can buy cigarettes by the pack behind the bar, hard-boiled eggs are served sometimes, someone always has an opinion, it may or may not still be mafia-associated, and it’s cash only. The funny part about Richard’s Bar is the fact that it’s located between two of the city’s top Italian restaurants and at a corner in the city (Milwaukee/Grand/Halsted) where just about everything has modernized around it.


So it should come as no surprise that despite a statewide ban on indoor dining and drinking that Richard’s is continuing to operate as if there was nothing going on outside its four walls. They’re even openly combating the city saying that it “will not comply” should the city try and come in and shut it down with a large sign on their front entrances. You can’t make this up. Per Block Club Chicago, the sign included:

“If you are asking us to shut down our business, we will not comply as that request is unlawful according to the law identified below…We have legal counsel … representing us and we’re happy to provide any notices or citations to him if that’s necessary.”


This is just an additional notch in the Richard’s Bar belt of not giving a damn about anything. Ever since the city banned indoor smoking in bars more than 10 years ago Richard’s has been known as the place where you can just light up right at your seat. In February of this year, there was a stabbing right outside of the joint after two men had spent the night drinking and now Richard’s finds themselves in the middle of a wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the accused was over-served.

While Richard’s certainly takes the cake for brazen lack of compliance, this seems to be par for the course for a lot of the city’s tavern ownership. Many can’t afford to shut down or lose the business of indoor dining so their thought process has been serve them now and deal with the fine later and hopefully the business covers that cost. Certain suburbs have found themselves in a battle against the state government willingly not complying with state ordinances and restrictions during the pandemic.


It just never seems to end for Richard’s. I’m not sure they want it to, honestly, as they’re going with the all press is good press depending on who you talk to adage; a sentiment I’m sure resonates with their standard patronage. I can recall a time I went to Richard’s Bar with a few co-workers after a holiday party. I left in the middle of the party on the account of a dare to go and get myself a tattoo. If I came back with one, one of the directors said he’d cover my drinks for the night. So I did, they left the bar across the street and headed to Richard’s and when I met them there afterwards, showed them the ink and said pay up, the guy behind the bar told me to shut the f*ck up or go somewhere else. That’s Richard’s Bar for you.


You can read the transcript of the public notice that was posted on the doors to their entrance and read it for yourself:

Dear Patrons: 


Our establishment is presently open and we are taking extra precautionary measures to make sure that our employees, customers, or anyone that enters our building, understands that safety is our [number] one priority! As currently required by IDPH rule 690.50, please keep your face mask on while walking inside the premises at all times.

Dear Government Agencies: 


If you are asking us to shut down our business, we will not comply as that request is unlawful according to the law identified below. We have legal counsel (Thomas DeVore – Silver Lake group, LTD. #618 223-0737) representing us and we’re happy to provide any notices or citations to him if that’s necessary. Thank you and we understand you are just doing your job, as we are also just doing our job, by providing a safe environment for our employees and patrons.

Illinois Department of Public Health act 20 ILCS 2305(c)

Except as provided in this section, no place may be ordered to be closed and made off-limits to the public except with the consent of the owner of the place, or upon the prior order of a court of competent jurisdiction. The Department may, however, order a place to be closed and made off-limits to the public on an immediate basis without prior consent or court order if, in the reasonable judgment of the Department, immediate action is required to protect the public from a dangerously contagious or infectious disease.

In the event of an immediate order issued without prior consent or court order, the Department shall, as soon as practical, within 48 hours after issuing the order, obtain the consent of the person or owner or file a petition requesting a court order authorizing the closure.

To obtain a court order, the Department, by clear and convincing evidence, must prove that the public’s health and welfare is significantly endangered by a place where there is a significant amount of activity likely to spread a dangerously contagious or infectious disease.

For what it’s worth, the air inside Richard’s Bar might be the only place in the city where COVID-19 couldn’t live. But that’s Richard’s Bar for you. And it’s just exactly how they like it.

Featured Image Credit: Richard’s Bar on Facebook

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