CHICAGO - Southport Lanes has been in operation for 98 years, since 1922. But owners say business has dropped so sharply because of the pandemic, it's forced to close by the end of the month.
Almost 100 years of history as a bar, a bowling alley and a billiards room. When it was open during prohibition, it was even a speakeasy.
“Seeing them as young people, new to Chicago, then meeting their wives, husbands, then meeting their families and them bringing THEM here,” said General Manager Phil Carneol.
Carneol doesn't know what's in store for the building's future, but he's trying to savor the bar's final days in operation.
“Being part of something I think you know is really, really special not only to the neighborhood but to the North Side of Chicago,” said Carneol.
As word spread of the closure tonight, a small crowd formed outside to show support and share memories.
“Saw the news today and decided we had to come back for one more last hurrah at Southport Lanes,” said Jay Novak, a customer since 1991. “One of my good fraternity brothers had his bachelor party in the office upstairs and I think the details will remain up there in the walls.”
“It's sad to see places like this go. You don't expect it to be replaced by anything that can hold the character that Southport Lanes did,” said Zach Garza, another longtime customer.
Southport Lanes management is urging all its longtime customers to stop by for one last drink.
The last day for the bar will be Sept. 27.