In another life, Patrick Kennedy was a train conductor. He revisits his previous dimension daily, tending bar at the Portage Park
dive dubbed Kennedy's sporting a conductor's hat courtesy of Metra. He often reminds the scores of Cubs fans in from the 'burbs and unfamiliar with Chicago transit, "If you can find your way back to Pat's from Wrigleyville
, you can get back home." Without him, they'd be lost.
The brick shack-looking workingman's bar offers a view of the Grayland Metra stop, a never-ending fetish for Pat. He doesn't just time his clocks hanging from powder-blue walls with indifference; here, everything runs on Metra time. Schedules layer walls and Metra maps sit unused in a wooden mantle drawer; Pat's got it down to memory by now.
Like any dive, you uncover an array of sports insignia, Chicago-Irish relics, a long bar and a Golden Tee arcade. With all the condos and townhouses sprouting up across the street in Old Irving Park, it's a miracle Kennedy's doors still revolve. Newer residents often scoff at the haunt. "There’s not too many of these bars left," Pay says. "The communication in bars is just not the same. Before, it was Bill the plumber, Mark the electrician and Bob the carpenter. You talked sports and you knew something about the guys that came in. They'd offer their services, and you'd pay them back with a beer. Now, guys come in and spend 45 minutes texting." Keeping up with the times, at least he does offer free wifi.
Legend has it the bar once suited the biker set and in the '90s an FBI raid cracked down on IRA meetings supposedly taking place. For now, folks of all shades drop in either for packaged goods or killing time before the next train out. Women don't often make the journey and if one does she just might bark, "This is a ... sausage bar," Pat jokes.
No kitchen in the house, just a few bags of chips for sale. Drinks range from $3.25 for imports and $3.50 for an average cocktail. Did we mention $1 PBRs on tap? Alll aboard!
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez