Simone’s: Where “Unconventional” & “Going Green” Meet Over Drinks

By: Dana Ragazinskas

It doesn’t get any more unconventional than this! Simone’s is bursting at the seams with unique characteristics. Simone’s is definitely unlike any bar I’ve been to before, so it has become my all time favorite spot to eat and drink. This is not a place you can only visit once! After reading this, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with Simone’s just as I did! You can find Simone’s in the Pilsen neighborhood, right on the corner of 18th and Morgan, open every day from 11:30am to 2:00am, with daily food and drink specials.  This area is quiet yet full of personality.  It’s closeness to University Village and art galleries are just two factors that create this personable feel. No place in the Pilsen area is quite like Simone’s, and I think that’s what makes it so attractive to the locals in the area.

The Front Bar of Simone’s

Simone’s is a unique bar and grill, owned by Russ Grant, his wife Desiree, and their partner Michael Noone. They opened Simone’s on February 13th of 2009, making it fairly new to the Chicago scene. How do we know the exact date they opened? Marc, one of the managers, happened to be at Simone’s when It’s a Local Thing stopped by to grab a bite to eat, and chatted with us for a moment. “We are getting ready to celebrate our two year anniversary, which is kind of exciting”, Marc said as he filled our glasses with water. He took a moment to fill us in on the history of Simone’s, and gave us a few in depth descriptions of the design and artwork.

He started by telling us that one of the owners, Desiree, wanted to name this place Simone’s not only because it was her favorite name, but because it sounded mysterious and international. We would have to agree with Desiree on this one, Simone is a very intriguing name, and it seems to fit the personality of the bar quite well. “There were two main designers/architects that were behind the concept and design of Simone’s, and they are also responsible for the hand painted wallpaper in the bathrooms“, Marc continued, as we listened and looked around at all the extreme details that went into this place. “Our bars’ counter tops are made out of old bowling alley lanes, with handrails that are made out of old conveyor belts from a candy factory that closed down.” He also showed us the vintage pinball machines that were hanging from the ceiling as artwork. Marc pointed out to us that the glass doors used to separate their front bar from their back bar are the executive office doors from VBBM-TV, with the company name still preserved on the glass.

The Coolest Chandelier & “The Lab” (Simone’s Back Bar)

It’s a Local Thing sat in the back half of the bar, which Marc called “The Lab”. “The back bar, which we call ‘The Lab’, is made almost entirely out of material from an old high school that closed down called Westing House High School. As you can see, the tables are the student’s old desks, in which we kept their writing and graffiti on them for character”, he explained as he pointed out all the old chemistry equipment behind the bar. Beakers, test tubes, and burners decorate the bar area, surrounding an old chalk board that stands as a centerpiece. Last but not least, he informed us about the weird, yet beautiful chandelier hanging over our heads. The chandelier was created by the artist Davide, and is made entirely out of washing machine parts and other old junk yard material. This is definitely unlike your typical chandelier. We were happy Marc was able to share all this with us before he had to run off and get back to work.

Womens Bathroom at Simone’s
After our visit at Simone’s, we came across an interesting fact on their website that Marc had left out! Simone’s is a certified green restaurant! You might be asking yourself, what the heck does that mean? Well, all that stuff Marc said about getting used and old material to create Simone’s actually has a bigger purpose then just looking really cool. When a restaurant, like Simone’s is a certified green restaurant, it means that it meets the criteria for being an environmentally responsible operation. So not only does Simone’s look really awesome, it’s also helping the environment, one piece of furniture at a time! This place is incredible! You really have to see it all for yourself. Be sure to check out the graffiti on the walls, the fireplace lounge section, and the fenced in pinball DJ booth that looks over the front bar. You’ll also find different paintings and photographs from local artists on all the walls. If you see something you like, all paintings and artwork are available for purchasing.

 

Street View of Simone’s & a Cool Pinball Machine on the Wall

 

The afternoons at Simone’s tend to be rather quiet, only having a small crowd. At night you can enjoy a live DJ and grab a few beers with friends. The casual atmosphere attracts both people in their twenties and thirties. The local crowd grows during the night hours, so if you’re looking to just casually check it out, come during the afternoon and grab a bite to eat. When It’s a Local Thing stopped by Simone’s, it was around 1:00pm and it was surprisingly crowded! We found out later that there was a trivia tournament going on, which was kind of exciting and fun to watch! Although a trivia tournament doesn’t happen often, Simone’s does have regular bar trivia that is free to join. So if that sounds like something you would be interested in, check their website regularly to find out what days their having trivia night. We enjoyed our time at Simone’s eating lunch, talking to Marc and with our waitress as well! We asked our waitress what she liked best about working at Simone’s, and she eagerly answered with, “The staff! Everyone here is awesome, and we all get along really well. I think us getting along well and working together effortlessly, gives Simone’s a pleasant atmosphere! Not to mention this place just looks really cool!” We agree with our waitress, Jen, completely! So get on over to Simone’s and enjoy some great food and great people! For more information in regard to food or drink specials, feel free to check out Simone’s Website.

 

When Old Desks Become Tables in “The Lab”

Location: 960 W 18th
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 666-8601
Photos taken by: Dana Ragazinskas

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