The Mark Lettieri Group performed recently at Pollyanna in St. Charles. // Courtesy of Steven Rodriguez, The Counter Culture Club

With a side of music: Suburban venues that satisfy both culinary and musical appetites

Looking for a place where you can grab a bite while listening to some live tunes? Here are some indoor and outdoor music offerings at suburban restaurants and bars.

Pollyanna Brewing Company’s St. Charles location isn’t the first music bar to occupy its building. Originally Chord on Blues and then River Rockhouse, the building sat vacant until Pollyanna filled the space in 2019.

Nick Miller, general manager of the St. Charles location, said that Pollyanna’s owners thought the historic space would be perfect for a flagship music venue for the small chain, which also has locations in Lemont and Roselle.

“We’ve always had music at the other spots, but it’s such a limited space that we just do solo or acoustic duos,” Miller said. “[Pollyanna CEO Ryan Weidner] had his eyes on a St. Charles central location and he kept this place in mind.

“When we took over the space, we were very conscious about what it has been in the past,” Miller said. “We definitely wanted to keep some of that spirit and just build on it and incorporate what we do.”

The new location officially opened in November 2019 and was an immediate favorite, but the pandemic quickly halted plans for indoor music, forcing the location to get creative.

Fans dance along to music from Covington Groove at a past show at Pollyanna in St. Charles. // Courtesy of Jason Perez

“We had five months of a honeymoon with the new place, and then we were shut down,” Miller said. “We have this upper level with open garage doors, so we’d have musicians up there playing out to the patio. People loved it.”

Pollyanna is located adjacent to the House Pub, another music-centric bar, and the Arcada Theatre, in what has become an unofficial music district of sorts in the heart of downtown St. Charles.

Newcomers to Pollyanna will notice the large pipes and kettles behind the stage. It’s a great thematic backdrop, but Miller says it’s more than just for show.

“The old stage is now our spirit distilling facility,” Miller said. “We had to do some pretty hefty renovations. We tried to leave the footprint of the bar the same.”

Pollyanna books talent in partnership with Tunes for a Minute, a local talent buying company specializing in local acts. Local groups like InFunktious, Covington Groove and The Curtis James band are among the many regulars on the Pollyanna stage.

“I’ve seen just a ton of talent,” Miller said. “We’ve got our quote-unquote ‘beer geeks’ who are always going to come for the beer earlier on. And then we’ve got the crowd that starts shuffling in when the music’s about to hit. And it’s good to see we’re capturing the music lovers and the beer lovers, and now the spirit lovers.”

Looking for a place that satisfies both culinary and musical appetites? Here are some indoor and outdoor music offerings at suburban restaurants and bars.

The Nick Moss Band headlined during a past show at Pollyanna in St. Charles. // Courtesy of Jason Perez

Pollyanna St. Charles

106 S. Riverside Ave., St. Charles, (630) 549-7372,

Pollyanna plans to offer both indoor and outdoor music this summer, with drink specials to match. Enjoy craft beers along with unique spirits brewed on location. Beer options include year-round favorites like the The Full Lemonty, plus seasonal brews. Beer lovers should consider joining the Pollyanna “Optimist’s Society” for special deals on beers and spirits, as well as free cover for music events. Upcoming performers include Terry Byrne on June 18 and July 2, Matt Keen on June 25 and Ry Guys Acoustic Duo on July 9.

Shukin’ & The Ramblers will perform a free Sounds of Summer After Party at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights on June 24. // Courtesy of Hey Nonny

Hey Nonny

10 S. Vail Ave., Arlington Heights, (224) 202-0750,

The Arlington Heights music venue and bistro celebrates the outdoor dining season with multiple events throughout June. Concerts are ticketed and can be enjoyed in the venue’s listening room, which has access to a full bar and a dinner menu for premiere seats. Happy Hour runs from 4-6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and includes appetizers and $8 drinks. Plus, listen to music from Molly Rose during the Heyday Happy Hour at 4 p.m. Friday and stick around for Chris Trapper with Mary Scholz at 7:30 p.m. On Saturday, enjoy the Bluegrass Brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., with tunes from Andy Miller. Zion Rodman will play the Happy Hour at 4 p.m. Saturday, with Mud Morganfield playing the blues at 7:30 p.m. Come back Sunday for the weekly Jazz Brunch, this week featuring Harry Tonchev and Clark Sommers. That’s just this weekend. Check the website for a calendar of upcoming live shows.

Hey Nonny also will be hosting free Sounds of Summer after parties after each village-sponsored concert held in Harmony Park. Performers in June include June 16, The Corner Boys June 23, Shukin’ & The Ramblers June 24, Charlie Otto July 1, the Katherine Nagy Trio July 29 and more.

Mickey Finn’s Brewery

345 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, (847) 362-6688,

No trek through downtown Libertyville would be complete without a visit to Mickey Finn’s Brewery thanks to its varied music options and an extensive food and drink menu. Cover bands are a staple of the venue, but it also hosts a variety of acts across multiple genres. Visit the brewery on Wednesday for “2 fer 1” burger days, or wait until Thursday for karaoke night. Mickey Finn’s also has a brunch menu for early-bird visitors. Upcoming performances include Winnie Cooper on Friday, June 3; 40 HZ on Saturday, June 4; Jim & Justin (acoustic) on Sunday, June 5; American Psychos on Friday, June 10; Sidestreets on Saturday, June 11; and 704 (acoustic) on Sunday, June 12. Check for the full schedule.

EvenFlow Music & Spirits

302 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 549-4090,

Located in the center of the downtown area, EvenFlow has been a haven for Geneva music lovers, taking inspiration from the music venues of Chicago and Nashville. Customers looking to live out their rock ‘n’ roll fantasies should check out the live band karaoke nights held twice a month, or bring their own instruments to the weekly open jam nights.

A full bar is only a few steps away and specializes in signature music-themed cocktails such as the The Pearly Jam (raspberry vodka, sour apple pucker and cranberry juice), Mrs. Robinson (vanilla vodka, peach schnapps and chambord) and The Johnny Cash (jalapeno-infused Moscow mule). And don’t miss the aptly named burgers, such as The Springsteen (American cheese, sauteed mushrooms, aioli, lettuce, onion, tomato and pickle), the Madonna (white cheddar, caramelized onion and bacon mayo) and Willies Western (cheddar cheese, fried egg, bacon and chipotle mayo).

The Katherine Nagy Trio will play a free Sounds of Summer After Party concert July 29 at Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights. // Courtesy of Hey Nonny

Sidecar Supper Club & Beer Garden

12 N. River St., Batavia, (630) 406-9200,

One of the hidden gems of Batavia, Sidecar Supper Club hosts live music on its outdoor stage four times a week during the summer. The highlights include local musician spotlights from 6-8 p.m. Tuesdays and Bluegrass Sundays, which run from 5-7 p.m. The stage is surrounded by a spacious beer garden with dog-friendly seating. The locally sourced menu changes often save for the burgers, which are always available. Consider the State Champ burger (topped with havarti, bacon jam, garlic aioli, arugula and pickled red onion on a Gnarly Knots pretzel bun) or the River Street burger (garnished with Wisconsin cheddar, house-smoked back bacon and Kindred Coffee barbecue sauce on a Gnarly Knots pretzel bun).


821 Chicago Ave., Evanston, (847) 584-2337, and 4901 Main St., Skokie, (847) 588-0652,

Sketchbook Brewing Company’s Evanston and Skokie locations both host live music regularly. The breweries feature indoor and outdoor shows weekly with an emphasis on folk music acts. There’s no cover charge for most concerts, but customers are encouraged to order a microbrew to enjoy during the show. Year-round brews include the Orange Door IPA and the No Parking citra pale ale. Happy Hour is from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Friday in Evanston and Tuesday through Friday in Skokie, when selected pints are $5. Evanston offers live Irish music from 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays, and Skokie hosts live music every Sunday.

The Cottage

6 E. Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-7520,

The cozy Crystal Lake joint hosts live shows every Friday night and a live DJ every Saturday night. Whatever you choose, make sure to grab a jar of Julie Ann’s frozen custard. Plus, $16 monster Bloody Marys are available Saturdays and Sundays until 5 p.m.

Club Arcada Speakeasy & Restaurant

105 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 962-7000,

Located in the upstairs of the historic Arcada Theatre, Club Arcada transports customers back in time with thematically dressed staff and era-appropriate jazz, big band and rockabilly acts. Enjoy a premium dessert cocktail or some of the Arcada’s famous meatballs within a living time capsule. Entertainment fees and a two-drink minimum are included. Upcoming events include Sinatra Sundays from 3-8 p.m. featuring entertainment and an Italian feast (salad, homemade cheese ravioli or penne with Sunday sauce/gravy, Ron’s famous meatballs, Taylor Street sausage and peppers, garlic bread and cannoli) for $24.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids 12 and younger.

Shirley’s Piano Bar

104 N. Cook St., Barrington, (224) 888-1880,

Barrington’s own intimate piano bar provides a unique alternative for those looking for a different kind of musical dining experience. Kick back with Shirley’s many specialty martinis and signature cocktails and appreciate a rotating roster of virtuosic piano players every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. A wide range of scotches and wines are also available.

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