A Scottish Pub Known For Premier Fish and Chips Is Moving After 35 Years

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The Duke of Perth, home of one of the city’s best plates of fish and chips and a rare Chicago pub that highlights Scottish cuisine, is moving from its original home where it has stood since 1989. Later this month, they’ll wrap up a 35-year stint at 2913 N. Clark Street. Work has already begun at their new home, 2827 N. Broadway, the former Renaldi’s Pizza. It’s about a five-minute walk southeast.

Coincidentally, the Renaldi’s space has sentimental value for the Duke’s co-owner John Crombie. When he first emigrated to America from Dundee, Scotland, he met the woman who would become his wife. After a visit to Scotland, he flew back to Chicago where she picked him up from O’Hare International Airport and they drove directly to Renaldi’s: “It’s always been a soft spot for us,” Crombie says.

That nostalgia didn’t fuel the move. Operating a restaurant is tough, and Crombie and his partners thought they were stuck in a rut at the original space. They weren’t making money and their lease was about to expire. Crombie feared if they renewed their lease, say for three years, they’d find themselves in the same predicament in three years. The choice was either to close or take a chance and move. Meanwhile, Renaldi’s was caught in limbo after 50 years. Though closed since September, cryptic signs left in the window left hope that a reopening was possible. That never happened and Crombie says he made an offer around Thanksgiving in November.

The new location won’t have a lot of new bells and whistles or a new menu: “Good whisky, good beer — wonderful [all-you-can-eat] fish and chips,” Crombie reiterates. The Duke is a place for conversation and there are no TVs; that philosophy will carry over as they’re trying to recreate the Clark Street space on Broadway. Crombie says started the process of “heavy redecorating.” Out went Renadli’s old pizza oven. The Duke’s history dates back to the ‘80s when Crombie and company owned a store, International Antiques, at 2909 N. Clark Street, across from the Century Shopping Center. They purchased the building and decided to open a pub.

A pizza sign in the sky.
Renaldi’s is closed as Duke of Perth is moving inside.
Ashok Selvam/Eater Chicago

But in the early years, they struggled and as the market for antiques sagged, they decided to sell the building. Crombie says two months after the sale, Chicago magazine published a story praising the Duke’s fish and chips. The positive press ignited business and the Duke was saved. The ownership also is behind another Lakeview icon, Le Creperie, having purchased the French restaurant in 2014. The original idea was to move the Duke into Le Creperie’s space, but after their landlord lowered the rent and hearing the community outcry to save Le Creperie, John and Jack Crombie changed directions.

The plan is to close around May 25 on Clark Street, to give some of the musicians who frequently performed over the years a chance to say goodbye and to open on Broadway in early June. As Crombie and his partners, including Colin Cameron, get older, operating a bar continues to be a daunting task. Despite the temptations to close, Crombie was matter-of-fact in their reasoning to keep going.

“Just because the Duke is the Duke and everybody likes it,” he says.

Crombie is also amused as they purchased Renaldi’s old liquor license. The name of the license? “Shorty O’Toole’s.”

“It’s a Scottish place buying an Italian place with an Irish name,” Crombie adds.

Duke Of Perth

2913 North Clark Street, , IL 60657 (773) 477-1741 Visit Website

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