James E. McNellie’s Public House, better known as McNellie’s Pub, is in for some big changes, according to a Facebook post by owner Elliot Nelson.
For starters, the 15-year-old pub will shut down for 10 to 12 days beginning Monday, Sept. 9, for renovations.
“When we first started over 15 years ago, we were largely a bar,” Nelson said in the post. “We counted on late-night Friday and Saturday business to carry us through. And the few neighbors we had were mostly nightclubs and bars doing the same thing. But as downtown has progressed, so has our business. We sell more beer today than we did back then, but our food sales have gone up tenfold throughout the years.”
Nelson said the original kitchen is less than 600 square feet, and the line is 12 feet long, with as many as five people working on it at a time.
“The heroes who work in the pub kitchen produce thousands of meals a week and have served up to 1,500 meals in a night,” Nelson said. “It’s time to improve those conditions ... so we’re doubling our capacity and creating a better work environment.”
The upstairs, a smoking room since the pub opened in 2004, will be converted to a nonsmoking environment to accommodate more dining customers.
“For our loyal smoking guests, we’re working on a couple of outdoor solutions that we hope will meet your needs,” Nelson said. “We’re also implementing an online reservation system. The majority of our tables will still be open to walk-ins, but given the expanded dining capabilities and different demands in the neighborhood, we can now accommodate more requests.”
Nelson said rooms will get new paint, and new draft lines will be installed for the beers.
“All around, trying to improve while not touching the soul of a place that’s very much a piece of me,” he said. “We hope you enjoy the subtle changes (there’s a snug coming to the sidebar), and we appreciate your patience while we’re closed to make it happen.”
A snug is a small, private dining table that is served by a dedicated pass-through to the bar. It is a feature at McNellie’s South City, 7031 S. Zurich Ave.