The saga of the Campus Lounge continues: This week, new owners will re-open the storied bar on the edge of Washington Park and Bonnie Brae for the third time in as many years. But this time things could go better, thanks to a combination of new draws and a little intangible magic.
The new owners are the same folks who run Recess Beer Garden, and they've made sure that the new incarnation of the Campus Lounge looks and feels like a neighborhood bar. Even during daylight hours, the place feels warm and welcoming — and just dark enough, without being dim or dreary, to feel appropriate for day drinking. The decor leans heavily toward a camping and outdoor-recreation theme, with antique water skis, fishing gear and Great Lakes nautical tchotchkes lining the walls and shelves; there's even an entire canoe suspended from the ceiling in the game room, which now sports billiards, shuffleboard and video games. Wood accents such as wainscoting and chair rails add to the warmth.
Owen Olson, one of the owners, says that the building's owner, Charlie Woolley of the St. Charles Town Co., recently purchased the Ink Coffee building next door, so Campus Lounge guests should soon be able to share parking with coffee customers in the back. Olson grew up just a few blocks away and remembers coming to the Campus Lounge with his family when he was a kid. So while the main bar, with its padded turquoise arm rail, is built for hanging out for the long haul, the dining room and game room are more family-friendly.
Opening day is Friday, January 31, at 701 South University Boulevard. Visit the Campus Lounge Facebook page for more details.