Ownership of The Cove Lounge will change hands within the next year, with the new owners expected to make small renovations to the interior of the staple Hyde Park watering hole.
Co-owner Agnes Spulak cited retirement as her cause for selling the bar, which she has managed since 1996. “I’m old and tired,” she said. “My new grandchildren are in Florida.”
Fifth Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston confirmed the proposed sale, adding that the transaction could take up to a year to complete, depending on how long the requisite paperwork takes to process.
Hairston said the prospective owners are Nick and Vicky Trikkas, who are not residents of Hyde Park. They were unavailable for comment.
Because The Cove is part of a landlord-owned building on 55th Street and Everett Avenue, around the corner from the Shoreland residence hall, its owners cannot renovate the bar. Similarly, the building has also been earmarked as a Hyde Park historical site, and the exterior can therefore not be changed.
“What’ll be up to [Nick] is to change the interior all he wants,” Spulak said. “He plans on working the bar. I’m sure he has ideas for improving it.”
The Cove, which has been a popular hangout in the Hyde Park bar scene since the 1960s, attracts a crowd from the University — including two bartenders from the College — as well as a strong group of local regulars.
“Tuesday and Thursday nights seem to be college nights here,” Spulak said. “We have a lot of college kids; we know they are still young enough to eat and drink and we cater to that. They are great. I haven’t had any problems, except with ID’s.”
For The Cove to officially change ownership, the Trikkas couple must first pass inspection from the health department and a police background check. They must also complete a lengthy application to obtain a liquor license, which, under Illinois state law, does not pass from owner to owner.
“Without a liquor license, nothing is in the bag,” Spulak said. “Our current mayor isn’t happy about bars not connected to restaurants. In fact, he’d like to close all of them.”
But Hairston believes the change of ownership of The Cove has gone smoothly so far. No one from the community attended a preliminary September meeting about the change of ownership, and at the October meeting there was little opposition to the change.
“It has been one of the more uneventful things in Hyde Park,” Hairston explained. “The Cove is well established. It’s been part of the community for quite a long time. The community understands the owner needs to retire and they want to see it continue to operate.”