New Gay Bar / Restaurant Opening In Berwyn

by Gary Barlow
Sunday Aug 8, 2010

The former owner of Chesterfield's, who ran that gay bar for 10 years on Chicago's South Side, is opening a new gay nightclub and restaurant in Berwyn.

Jose Antonio Casco said he hopes to have the new club, which will be called Antronio's, open by Sept. 1.

"We still have a lot of work to do, but we're hoping for Sept. 1," Casco said July 30. "But if not, it will be by Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day."

The club and restaurant is at 6319 Roosevelt Road in Berwyn, and Casco said he's had his eye on the property for a long time.

"I went to see this place three years ago and I fell in love with it from day one," Casco said.

While Chesterfield's was only open Fri.-Sun., Casco plans to operate Antronio's six days a week, with the restaurant open for lunch and dinner and the nightclub open late.

"It's two to two and a half times the size of Chesterfield's," Casco said. "The restaurant will be open during the day, with a bar, until probably 10 p.m. Then, where we have the dining room, we'll rearrange the tables, and it'll be more for people to mingle and talk, and the music won't be as loud. Then in the back room we'll have the dance floor and stage for performers and shows."

The restaurant is slated to feature moderately priced Mexican cuisine.

"My partner Romero is the chef," Casco said. "Most of the dishes will be his and my mom's, so it will be like homemade Mexican cooking, and everything is going to be very fresh."

Casco has done a lot of outreach in Berwyn and said he's found the community to be very welcoming to the concept. The site was formerly a straight bar that ran into problems with its neighbors over complaints about noise and fights.

"I started talking to the neighbors two years ago," Casco said. "The neighbors complained about the noise, and I can see why. On one side there was just a garage door, with no insulation. There were a lot of things that had to be done to the building."

Casco has also had extensive talks with city officials in Berwyn, including Mayor Robert Lovero.

"We feel very welcome in Berwyn, and we're grateful to the mayor and his staff - they have been great," Casco said. "We look forward to staying there for many years to come. We'll have a pre-opening party and invite members of BUNGALO (Berwyn United Neighborhood Gay and Lesbian Organization), from City Hall and our neighbors, so they can see how different it is from what was there before."

Chesterfield's was known for hosting LGBT community fundraisers and organizations and Casco said his commitment to the community would continue at Antronio's.

"I'm very pro-community, so if anybody has a need and we can help, we will," he said. "We'll try to give them whatever we can."

Casco sold Chesterfield's in November 2008 and looks forward to seeing many of his old customers again.

"My hopes are very high," he said. "I run into my customers from Chesterfield's and everybody says they miss that environment we had, which was clean and fun and no drugs and so on. So I know a lot of people are going to be happy that we are back in business."

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