The parking lot nearest to it may be closed, the solstice was seven weeks ago, and 63rd Street Beach is closed, but Reggies on the Beach opened for the 2020 season on Aug. 6.
"The parking lot is a concern, but us just being able to open this year with all that's going on and with what we were told two or three weeks ago — I'll take it in a heartbeat," said the relieved owner, Robby Glick, in an interview.
Chicago's beaches are closed, as are indoor bars, as a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic. Though Reggies on the Beach, 6259 S. Lake Shore Drive, and other lakefront establishments licensed through the Chicago Park District offer ample outdoor seating, they were not given permission to open when other restaurants and bars were.
Asked what effected the change of mind, Glick pointed to lobbying.
"I think we were enough of a pain in the ass," he said. "A lot of people were on our side. Ald. Hairston (5th) was on our side. Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar definitely had a role in this."
"Everyone said, 'Well, you can't open because the beaches are closed,'" Glick continued. "And we said a thousand times over, 'We don't need the beaches to be open for us to be open. That's not our clientele. Our clientele isn't showing up in swimsuits with pails and shovels. They're not going to the beach first thing. We may get some residuals, from people going to the beach, but for the most part, over 90% of our clientele is just coming to Reggies on the Beach to eat, drink and chill out, and then they're going home."
Parking west of Lake Shore Drive is open in lots around ⅛ of a mile away, with the restaurant and bar accessible via pedestrian underpass beneath the expressway.
"For being a bar on the beach, we've got to have some of the best prices out there," Glick said. "We're pretty much a beer-and-a-shot place. We're a rock-and-roll bar at the place on Cermak. When you come out, you're going to have really good bar food, burgers, the best chicken wings in the city, the catfish, the fried shrimp, the tuna melt. All the seafood that we have is really good and really popular. We have four or five salads to choose from, and the staff is second to none."
"It's a really cool vibe, and the backdrop on the beach at 63rd Street — if you've never been there, you don't even realize that you're in the City of Chicago. You think you're in a resort, beachfront in Tahiti or Aruba. It's just fantastic."
Reggies on the Beach is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.