We had planned on seeing some live music at Phyllis’s, but we ended up playing a game of H-O-R-S-E instead. The band that was supposed to play that night didn’t show up, so the bar wasn’t that crowded. The stage was a good size – they could definitely fit 100+ people in there for shows. There was also a Galaga and Ms. Pac Man machine towards the front. Arcade games while listening to live music...that sounds like a good Friday night. Apparently they sponsor a softball team, because there was a bag of bats in the corner...I guess that is one way not to lose them--keep them at the bar. The team was not very successful...there were only 3 trophies above the bar and the bartender told us that the players of Gold Star (bar across the street) come by every year showing off their softball trophies they win.
We sat at the bar for a little bit, there were only a few regulars there this night, including an older guy drinking a can of Hamms. Impressive… We also noticed there was only one beer on tap--Moosehead--which came out of a tap sticking out of a huge old blue cooler.
We then realized there was an outdoor patio, and walked out to one of the biggest beer gardens in Wicker Park. And, to top it all off, there was a basketball hoop attached to the brick wall. We hooped it up for a bit, but at 11pm a guy came out and said he was closing down the beer garden. It was Hamms guy! We complied with his request, understanding that it was late on a Wednesday and there are residences around the bar, so we went in and chatted a bit with Mike, aka Hamms guy. Mike is originally from Milwaukee, and has been running the bar for 17 years. He also told us Phyllis’s has been around since the 1950’s. Although we didn’t see it that night, the bar has definitely benefited from the gentrification of Wicker Park. The place is always packed on the weekends, due to the fact that the live music is usually free and they still have cheap beer (for the area). It seems like Phyllis’ Musical Inn will continue to be a Wicker Park fixture for years to come.