According to the company website, Lee’s Unleaded Blues will be reopening soon in Grand Crossing at 7401 S South Chicago Ave.
A representative of Lee’s Unleaded Blues did not immediately return What Now Chicago’s request for comment.
While an official opening date has yet to be released, the company website states that their goal re-opening date is in the third quarter of this year.
Warren Berger took ownership of Lee’s in 2018. Berger’s mission has been to not only preserve the legacy of this cherished blues bar but also to inject it with renewed vitality for a new generation of fans. The area surrounding the venue had seen its fair share of changes, prompting discussions about potential relocations to more developed parts of the city. However, Berger’s unwavering dedication to maintaining the bar’s roots prevailed.
The history of Lee’s Unleaded Blues is intertwined with the vibrant tapestry of Chicago’s blues culture. Originally opened by Ray and Leola “Lee” Grey in 1983, the bar became a haven for the city’s blues artists. Following the passing of her husband Stan Davis, a retired police officer, Yvonne Davis took over the venue in 2010. Under her stewardship, the bar continued to thrive until its temporary closure in 2015. Warren Berger’s involvement in the resurrection of Lee’s is driven by a passion for the music, a deep respect for its legacy, and a determination to uphold its significance in the community.
As the owner of Club Escape, a South Side bar catering to an LGBT clientele, he continues to demonstrate his ability to create and maintain inclusive spaces that resonate with the local community. His endeavors have not gone unnoticed, as he was chosen as a finalist for the city’s Neighborhood Opportunity Fund grant. This program, initiated by Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration, channels funds from downtown developers to rejuvenate neglected neighborhoods on the South and West Sides. Berger’s bar is among the first to benefit from this initiative, receiving $136,000 for renovations.
A critical figure in the revitalization of Lee’s Unleaded Blues is 5th Ward Alderwoman Leslie Hairston. Her personal connection to the venue, combined with her recognition of Berger’s commitment to the neighborhood, led her to support the revival project. Hairston fondly remembers the bar as a hub of blues culture, drawing people from across the globe and serving as a neighborhood staple, according to the company website.