We are truly sorry to report that Skewerz, 1560 N. Damen, is closed, just a few months after its fourth anniversary party. A new restaurant concept (independently owned) is slated to move into the space by late July.
We know sources close to the matter, but since they say, “I can’t tell you, because you’ll write about it,” we’re in the dark about the next chapter for the highly coveted space adjacent to the Damen El stop too. RIP, Skewerz.
So instead of reporting on what’s next we’ll just write about what Skewerz meant to us, if anyone cares.
We missed Skewerz’s wi-fi lounge this past deadline night aka last night. This fun fact has no relevance now, but for those who liked to burn midnight oil, Skewerz, home of the best grilled artichokes, was open until 2AM on weeknights. On average we- OK, I- was there once weekly, sometimes more. Though we kept to ourselves mainly, given we were usually writing something, Skewerz was our “Cheer’s.” Even exes unfortunately knew to find us there. And suitors. And friends that were worried about our mental health since they hadn’t seen us in awhile but knew where to find us on deadline night.
Philin Phlash’s photos were on the wall of Skewerz.
J. from Pint would come by on Wednesday nights to play darts, and tell me that I need to take risks, to not be afraid to write “more than just fluff.”
“You’ll get more readers if you write real stories,” he said. And then someone would throw a dart and almost miss the board. But perhaps having a death wish I was too lazy to move away from the dart board or to actually leave Skewerz, not until they were closing at 2AM, or 2:05AM. I was usually the last to leave.
“Oh, this neighborhood thing… this thing that takes up all the space in my life… this pipeline, ugh,” I’d say. Or mumble. Or whine. Aching lower back. Darn soft wifi lounge pillows! My fault for sitting on them for five hours, slouched over, typing with one hand, immobile, listening to the same reggae track that seemed to play the same songs for the past few years. Buffalo Soldier…
… If I were feeling especially manic, I’d leave Skewerz at 2AM and hop a cab to the all night Starbucks in Old Town and finish the pipeline there! Or sometimes go to a different all night cafe nearby like I did last night before finally giving up at 3AM and getting some shut-eye.
Mike, the owner of Skewerz, like many small business owners, lived and breathed his business the way I live and breathe the pipeline. To put everything you’ve got into a venture is not a risk most people would be willing to take. Most people are sane.
One day, this was awhile back, Mike told me that he saw this poor guy on the street trying to sell cotton candy, but for whatever reason, nobody was buying it. So Mike decided to ask him how much it would be to buy the entire pole.
Skewerz then sold cotton candy for a few days until the guy came back to get his pole.
Like Phlash, I snap thousands of pictures, so I can’t find the photo of Mike with the cotton candy. But here’s Phlash’s son, Marty, pointing to his dad’s photos on the wall of Skewerz.
On a side note, the adjoining Wiki Market (prior to the tiki wifi lounge), was the first time I ever met Phlash. He was selling his photos there.