Article courtesy of Loop North News
Ontario Street between State and Dearborn may soon have a commemorative name in honor of Art Bryan, the owner of The Redhead Piano Bar who died last week.
River North Business Association has written to 42nd Ward Alderman Brendan Reilly, asking that the block in front of The Redhead be given the honorary name, Art Bryan Way.
Bryan died on April 14 at the age of 55. The cause of death has not been released other than he died “peacefully” in his sleep.
Bryan had been on the board of directors of River North Business Association for more than 10 years. He was given a “Community Impact Award” (below) at the RNBA annual meeting on February 23.
“Art was a very kind and generous man who was extremely dedicated to River North and the RNBA,” wrote the association in a statement. “He vocally supported our efforts for decades and worked tirelessly on public safety issues and the legislation affecting restaurants and bars. He shunned publicity and praise and remained a modest man who made huge contributions to River North by bettering our community and association. He will be sorely missed.”
With a degree in economics and experience as an auditor and bartender, Bryan volunteered to help The Redhead with its bookkeeping shortly after the piano bar opened on June 10, 1993. By January, he was an investor in the bar and on August 1, 1994, started managing the bar. In January 1999, he bought out the other investors and purchased 16 West Ontario Street, the building in which The Redhead is located.
Business increased by 50 percent over the next five years and eventually, Bryan purchased 18 West Ontario street, on the west side of The Redhead. It was behind that building that Bryan created a legal smoking area when Chicago banned smoking in bars in 2008.
Bryan role model for bar owners, says RNBA
In its April 18 letter to Alderman Reilly, RNBA says Bryan had a “major impact” on River North.
“As the owner of the iconic Redhead Piano Bar, he modeled the behaviors we wish all bar owners in River North would follow. His patrons followed his lead and respected his dress code, property, and neighbors around the bar, therefore causing very few disturbances in the area.”
Services for Bryan are scheduled for Friday, 1-3 p.m., at Michalik Funeral Home, 1056 West Chicago Avenue, followed by a “celebration of his life and legacy” at The Redhead Piano Bar, 16 West Ontario Street, at 4:00 p.m.
The proposal for Art Bryan Way will be introduced at the Chicago City Council meeting on May 18. It will be considered by a committee and if approved by the full city council, Chicago Department of Transportation will be instructed to install a sign at the designated location. The sign is unveiled at a dedication ceremony.
Commemorative street signs are brown and include four six-point stars that symbolize the Chicago municipal flag. The official name of the street does not change and commemorative names do not appear on maps.