Ten Cat Tavern

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In 1987, Connie and Richard Vonachen closed down the vintage clothing shop they were operating and opened Ten Cat Tavern in its place. It was a natural thing to do, considering the couple met while working at the Ginger Man, another classic Chicago watering hole. Since that time, the bar (named after the herd of felines the couple keeps) has evolved into a popular neighborhood destination for 25-40 year olds. During the week, regulars camp out at the bar and on a funky hodgepodge of old furniture, working their way to the bottom of their drinks while blues, jazz and R&B standards flow from the sound system. Meanwhile, strong pool players dominate the felt on one of the two vintage pool tables that are the centerpiece of the bar. Richard prides himself on the 8-foot, 1940 Brunswick Sport King and the 9-foot, 1925 Brunswick Medalist that were salvaged from a pool hall that Connie's family still owns. He regularly resurfaces them both with Belgian felt--giving players pool-hall quality play in an intimate setting. "Of course we can't compete with pool halls," he says. "It would be great if we had a big place, but then it wouldn't be a neighborhood tavern." Local artists' work is displayed on the walls and in the windows. The place gets crowded on weekends. A sizable beer garden is open in warm weather.