Castaways Hasn’t Been Forgotten as the North Avenue Beach’s Icon Preps to Reopen

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Chicago’s famed boat-shaped restaurant and bar on North Avenue Beach will reopen on Memorial Day Weekend for the first time since 2022. Castaways Beach Club, an unmistakable symbol of summer along Lake Michigan, is returning after a $3 million renovation and new menu items.

After spending last summer in stasis, the beachside staple (formerly called Castaways Bar & Grill) is poised to unveil its freshly revamped two-floor, 22,000-square-foot space with dining decks, bar sections, patio areas, and cabanas with bottle service available for rental and private events, according to a rep.

A huge, boat-shaped beachside restaurant and bar in Chicago.
The renovation increased Castaways’ footprint to 22,000 square feet.
Castaways Beach Club

Castaways 2.0 will aim for a more polished approach than its previous sandy sports bar vibe. Workers have replaced its distressed paint with a more contemporary ocean blue and cream color scheme to evoke the breezy style of beach clubs in Miami or the Mediterranean, Stefani Restaurant Group managing partner Anthony Stefani tells the Sun-Times.

Castaways has added a tented structure on the north end of the venue that on weekends will become a 21-and-older section aptly dubbed the North End Club that will also host live music and DJ sets. To capitalize on the location’s sweeping views of the Chicago skyline, the team has installed a new bar section for happy hours and corporate events on the south end of the second floor.

The family-friendly upstairs restaurant also saw upgrades like new tile, paint, and furniture, and will reopen with a new, as-yet-unreleased food menu of “global beach fare” and cocktails for lunch and dinner, per a rep. Downstairs, two walk-up concession windows will channel sticky summer nostalgia. One will sling street food favorites like burgers, tacos, and wraps; the other, run by local mini-chain JoJo’s Shake Bar, will sell ice cream, according to Crain’s.

Castaways hasn’t missed many summers in its more than two-decade-long tenure under Stefani Restaurant Group, which contracts the space from the Chicago Park District. The group, founded by prolific Chicago restaurateur (and Anthony Stefani’s father) Phil Stefani, operates 10 Chicago area restaurants including Bar Cargo pizzeria in River North, Tuscany Taylor in Little Italy, and Stefani Prime steakhouse in Lincolnwood. Phil Stefani is due for a busy season, as he’s also on the cusp of relaunching downtown stalwart Tavern on Rush around the corner from its original home in Gold Coast.

Castaways Beach Club, 1603 Lake Shore Drive, Scheduled to open Memorial Day weekend (Friday, May 24 through Monday, May 27).

Castaways Bar & Grill

1603 N Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 281-1200 Visit Website

North Avenue Beach

1600 N Lake Shore Dr, , IL 60614

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