235. A Sneak Peek Inside McGonigal’s New Bar, The Annex
Anticipation is building and construction crews are working overtime renovating the Park Avenue Wine Bar space, which closed for business in Barrington last month. The family that owns McGonigal’s Pub also owns the adjacent Park Avenue property. They’re reinventing and reopening the space as a new bar and restaurant, called The Annex, on Monday of next week.
Since the McGonigal family decided to close the Park Avenue Wine Bar last month, they’ve been working feverishly to quickly open The Annex, which will be a casual new space to enjoy specialty drinks, craft beers, select wines and a menu of small plates that are easy to eat and share as you socialize.
Bryan McGonigal says they’re redefining the space and the concept for patrons who want an open, social and casual vibe more closely connected to McGonigal’s Pub’s inviting atmosphere. “The Park Avenue was a beautiful place, but it had a little identity crisis. Was it a wine selling place? Was it a drinking place? Was it a fine dining establishment? It never really grabbed onto something in particular and, for whatever reason, it just never really took…”
Though visually very cool, Bryan says the Park Avenue’s curved backlit bar was one of the first things to go in the redesign because it took up so much space, often causing a bottleneck in the middle of the restaurant. Crews have taken out that curved neon wall and reconfigured the bar, widening the space for guests to offer a more open flow and feel.
“Compared to the Pub, we’re promoting more of the drinking on this side and a social environment. It won’t be as loud as the Pub. The Annex will be less intense, but very casual and welcoming.” And they’re also offering an exciting new menu of food and drinks.
At The Annex, you’ll find specialty cocktails mixed with fresh fruit juices and infused liquors like a Strawberry Martini and a “Skinny Drinks” menu, including a Low-Cal Margarita. They’ll also have an extensive selection of craft beers by the bottle and a regular rotation of craft brews on tap. “We’re trying to appeal to the men and women that really like the craft beers and better mixed drinks that we’re not necessarily offering on the pub side.” And they’re taking care of the Park Avenue’s wine lovers, too, with a pared-down list of wines at all price points, including some best sellers from the Park Avenue’s wine list.
And here’s a tip: McGonigal’s is also assuming the packaged goods license linked to the Park Ave property, which means they can even sell craft beer six-packs and other bottled beverages to-go!
On the food menu, The Annex will offer about 18 options ranging from a Fried Pickle to a Flat Iron Steak. They’ll have some full entries, but will focus on smaller portions including Flatbread Pizzas, pasta dishes and a Caprese Salad, to name a few. McGonigal’s manager, Ismini Walsh says they’re making it easy for people to get a couple of items for the table to share. “So it’s really promoting a social atmosphere without all the loudness to it.”
And here’s another tip: If you’re at the Annex and want to order something from the Pub or vice versa, no problem! Bryan says sharing resources will be easier now that they’ve restructured ownership, allowing more flexibility in what they can serve where.
And as for the dress code at The Annex? Bryan McGonigal says it’s pretty simple. “You can come in shorts, you can come in jeans, you can come in a dress. It’s very casual. If it’s good enough for The Pub, it’s good enough for The Annex.”
And we don’t have to wait much longer to check it out. Ismini just emailed to say they’re ready to open for business this Monday, September 17th! The Annex will open at 4 p.m., seven days a week and will close at the same time as the pub, which is at 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. You’ll find The Annex right next door to McGonigal’s Pub, at 205 Park Avenue in Barrington, Illinois.