Lesbian cocktail bar Dorothy reopens this weekend under Split-Rail in a Ukrainian village

UKRAINIAN VILLAGE — A 70s-themed lesbian cocktail bar is reopening — for the second time — in the basement of a Ukrainian Village restaurant and art gallery this weekend.

Dorothy, 2500 W. Chicago Ave., will reopen on Saturday in a renovated space under the Split-Rail restaurant and The Martin art gallery.

The bar was launched in February 2020 by Split-Rail owner Zoe Schor and business partner Michelle Szot, who has since left the business.

Dorothy was only open a few weeks before COVID-19 shut down the state’s hospitality industry in March 2020.

Dorothy reopened nearly two years later in January 2022. But COVID numbers were on the rise again, leading the owners to close the bar for the second time.

“We were only open for a few weeks in January. The timing was wrong. Omicron was raging, it was just a tough time,” Schor said.

Six months later, Schor thinks the time has finally come to reopen the bar for good.

Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago
Rainn T., Whitney LaMora and Zoe Schor behind Dorothy’s bar, 2500 W. Chicago Ave. in the Ukrainian village in February

A former Ukrainian sports bar, Dorothy features retro ’70s furniture, a conversation pit, and a vintage bar left over from the space’s former tenant.

Schor hopes it will become a space where queer people and all neighbors come together for drinks, chat and possibly events.

“A lot of times, queer bars are either in a very queer neighborhood, which means it’s not accessible to everyone in the city. Queer bars are often extremely loud. And so it’s kind of like a neighborhood cocktail bar that also happens to be a lesbian bar,” Schor said.

“We’re creating a space where people are comfortable, people can sit down, hang out, have a drink and not feel like they have to shout to be heard or jump on a dance floor.”

The bar will focus on cocktails, but will also offer beer, wine and champagne.

Dorothy can easily be missed if you don’t know where she is. Customers enter through a red door on Chicago Avenue, then walk down.

Schor said while the bar is by no means a secret, isolation is definitely part of the appeal.

“We don’t have a giant sign outside, so we rely on word of mouth and people hopefully know we’re there. But we want people to know we’re here,” she said.

Dorothy will be open from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursdays, from 6 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays.

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