Lockdown Bar and Grill is a Chicago oddity nestled on the corner of Western and Cortez in the Ukrainian Village. It is a taproom that is saturated with televisions, but is not a sports bar. It is a joint that has terrific concerts throughout the day, but does not have a stage. It is the city’s premier virtual concert hall.
Watch the very best metal and hard rock concerts ever recorded from anywhere in the building. Each spot is like a first row seat, but one that also has room to spread out and enjoy superb pub fare. For, the Lockdown is as dedicated to immersing its patrons in the gourmet burger and craft brew craze as it is to inundating the senses with the overpowering and awe-inducing glory of rock.
Lockdown Bar & Grill is much more than just a restaurant to co-owners Peter “PJ” Zonis and David Jacobs. It is their conquest. In 2008, after years spent building an ecommerce empire, they were able to sell those Internet companies and take on a passion project. For PJ, it was music and the atmosphere that inspired him. For David, it was the food.
Of course, it almost never happened. PJ and David were on the verge of beginning the sale when they met for a meal, a ritual for the pair. It was then, when talking about what to do next over burgers and beer that PJ looked around and suggested opening a bar. Well, suggested might be an understatement. He emphatically declared it, knowing a life of metal and booze awaited and there was nothing that was gonna stop him.
David, despite being a foodie and harboring dreams of owning a restaurant to call his own, had reservations. The two had spent more than a decade exploring restaurants and bars throughout the world, but neither had worked in the industry.
It took some coaxing, but PJ crafted a vision and sold David on it. PJ worshipped hard rock and metal since his high school days and had an expansive collection of concert DVDs of some of the biggest rock shows in history. So, instead of going to the trouble of finding acts to play a small stage, why not deck out the place in televisions and overload the infrastructure with speakers? Allow the patrons to feel like they one of the quarter-million people watching Iron Maiden at the Rock in Rio (but with front row seats and some room to eat and drink comfortably). Make it a “Virtual Music Venue.” David, now convinced and equally excited, saw the incredible need for a gourmet burger joint in the Ukrainian Village south of Division.
It helped that PJ and David owned a building in a prime location on Western Avenue (it had been an office and was serving as David’s residence at the time of these discussions). Quite suddenly that building was under construction, David had to move across the street, and the two went through the painful process of applying for permits and settling on a design.
Today Lockdown thrives because of that vision, the unbridled ambition, and the continued dedication to every detail. The virtual music venue boasts 14 televisions and a sound system that will rumble the Earth if turned up to 11. The menu features 18 profound and innovative burgers and a beer list that has grown from impressive to nearly infinite.