It is Clear The Underground Wonderbar Needs Change

Underground WonderbarTHE BAR

After over a decade of performing in various bars and music venues all over Chicago, musician Lonie Walker decided to open a music venue of her own and in 1989 she opened the Underground Wonderbar. Lonie ran the bar successfully in the same location for 21 years but in 2011 she was forced to move out when the building was sold for a city development project.

After borrowing over $360,000 from family and friends, Lonie was able to move Thanks the bar into the high rent district in River North Chicago. Now, The Underground Wonderbar is losing $4,000 a month.

Lonie continues to play with her band four nights a week but her music became out of tune with the younger River North clientele. Unable to adapt to the new clientele and unwilling to change, Lonie is left with an underutilized space, an uninspired staff and a load of debt, totaling $515,000.


The Underground Wonderbar does not appeal to its marketplace whatsoever. There is no sophistication correlated to this bar. The bar is completely mismatched from the market with hand painted juvenile writing and colors outside.

Lonie is extremely stubborn; she insists on being a performer every night at the bar. Unfortunately, she does not have the best singing voice and she is dead set on the type of music she performs, which is not what the demographic is looking to listen to. She put herself in a premium spot in Chicago and if she does not accommodate the marketplace, she will not be singing on that stage for much longer.

Chicago is famous for a few things, pizza being one of them and Underground Wonderbar serves frozen pizza to their guests. Lonie is a vegan and the influence she puts on the menu deters customers from the food.

There is a downstairs room in the bar which is utilized for spoken word pieces, however, the stage upstairs is right above where the speaker is performing and the speaker’s voice gets muffled through the noise upstairs.

Lonie is delusional when it comes to how her bar should be run. She is stuck in the past and makes guests feel mildly uncomfortable with her eccentric musical acts. However, Lonie’s son and bartender does show real promise and has a knack for the industry. If Lonie stepped down as manager this bar could succeed.

Lonie Walker


Taffer painted the front of the bar white and explained to Lonie why she has to change the name of her bar. He made Jordan and Lonie sign a documents stating that the bar will not be changing back to Underground Wonderbar for at least a year.

Lonie agrees to at least attempt to accept change moving forward with the rescue. Jordan also asked Lonie to step down as managing operator so The Underground Wonderbar can prosper.

To rescue the kitchen, Taffer brought in restaurant owner, Chef Pink. The first thing to go in the kitchen was the frozen pizzas and replaced with delicious flatbreads with total cultural influence. A study was conducted that proves that 43% of men would rather have bacon than sex; Taffer and Chef Pink implement this into the menu.

Russell Davis was brought in to train the staff behind the bar.  He taught them simple techniques that will assist them in creating cocktails and spirit knowledge every bartender should know such as the different between a rye and bourbon. A true bourbon whiskey is distilled with a mash made up of at least 51% corn. The high sugar content in the corn mash and the aging process in the charred oak barrels gives the bourbon its signature sweet and spicy flavor.

Taffer comes up with a concept that is all about classic Chicago in a classic way to target the 31 year old resident.

The Underground Wonderbar was transformed into clear bar, a chic establishment with a sophisticated look. Taffer redid the entire upstairs and down stairs of the bar adding art fixtures and elements that maintain a stylish vibe. The sound system was redone so the noise of upstairs does not bleed below. Despite her dislike of the name, Lonie is impressed with the overall product of what Taffer put together.

clear barTHE RESULT

Guests are impressed with the young modern feel of clear bar. Jordan is effective as a manager; he stays involved and solves problems. The goal of this rescue was to take a music venue with a bar and turn it into a bar that plays live music and this was effectively carried out. Six weeks after relaunch food and drink sales are up 35% however Lonie took the clear bar sign down days after Jon left and she claims “Wonder will live on forever.”