The wait is over. For those longing to belly up to the Red Lion‘s oh-so inviting bar and order a pint, your moment has arrived. The British-style pub, at 4749 N. Rockwell Ave., is finally in possession of its highly anticipated liquor license and is ready to start pouring pints.
“We’re still getting set up with taps,” says owner Joe Heinan. Patrons currently can order beer by the bottle but by next week, Heinan expects to have Boddingtons on draught, along with BBK and Cains from Liverpool. Heinan also plans to rotate beers from local craft breweries such as Half Acre and Metropolitan.
Afficianados wondering whether Red Lion will install hand drawn taps should be cheered to hear the answer is definitely maybe. “We’re waiting to see about a couple of hand draws,” Heinan says. “I’ve got people coming by to see if they can modify the equipment.”
Red Lion’s bar will also feature 12-15 varieties of single malt Scotch and a handful of wines, though for a $3 corkage fee, patrons are still welcome to BYOW. “Especially with the wine, people were happy to bring their own,” says Heinan, “so we’re still going to run wine as BYOB.” Brunch is also in the works now that Red Lion can offer a proper Bloody Mary.
Already Heinan has noticed an uptick in business. “Oh yeah, the last two days were certainly busier than the week before,” he says. “We used to have people come in and leave when they couldn’t get a drink.”
Though the oft-delayed license was frustrating for patrons, Heinan isn’t as critical of the city as one might expect. “They told me up front that it normally takes four months or so.” Some missing information set his application back at least six week and staffing cuts at various city departments further added to the time required for review and inspections. “It’s not a fast process,” he says. “Actually, it went smoother than I thought it would. But until you have [the license] in hand, you’re always concerned.”
So what was the first drink the Red Lion served? Heinan would love to say it was a glass of expensive Scotch, but customers don’t always stick to the script. “It was a mango smoothie with rum,” he laughs.