The Wild Hare & Singing Armadillo Frog Sanctuary (2610 N. Halsted St.), a live reggae music venue for more than 30 years, announced Brian Fadden (Buddy Guy’s Legends, Lagunitas Taproom) as general manager and partner as the music venue reopens with a new socially distanced setup to offer live music and Caribbean barbecue and island specialties from the new Jerk Shack. The Wild Hare reopened Independence Day weekend after a nearly four-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic; Jerk Shack Caribbean Barbecue launched for delivery and curbside pickup out of The Wild Hare on April 3.
“Now more than ever, we need great live music to keep us rooted, give us a reason to smile and help keep the arts vital,” says Fadden (50), who brings over 25 years of general management and live music venue experience in Chicago to The Wild Hare. “The Wild Hare remains a unique Chicago institution with a worldwide reputation for the best in live reggae, and I am honored to be a part of the team to usher in the next chapter of the business in this post-COVID world.”
Fadden brings a blend of skills and experiences to The Wild Hare. Fadden opened and operated Lagunitas Brewing’s Chicago taproom in 2013 as general manager and for nearly five years booked mostly blues and roots music. Previously he spent 17 years including as both general manager and talent buyer at Buddy Guy’s Legends. Most recently, Brian opened and operates Taylor Street Tap in Little Italy, a neighborhood bar and live music venue with his wife, Victoria.
“The Wild Hare and our loyal community of friends have entered another chapter in our long commitment to bringing the best in live reggae to our stage” says Managing Member Asrat Sellassie. “We started into this as young musicians, as immigrants and in some cases political refugees and have overcome challenges and found success again and again. In the new post-COVID world we are adapting again to strengthen our food and delivery operation and finding ways to safely present great live reggae again to the community in more of a cabaret or supper club setting. Brian brings tremendous experience to our team. His long success in Chicago melding hospitality and great live music, and his exceptional understanding of Caribbean culture, is a unique fit.”
How It Works
The Wild Hare—has redefined how it will bring live reggae music to its patrons in the near term. Weekend nights (Friday, Saturday and some Sundays) will feature two live shows nightly where guests can reserve responsibly distanced tables for a supper-club style dining, drinking and live reggae experience in the time slots of 8pm or 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday along with some Sundays will feature rotating DJs and The Wild Hare Sound System from 9PM to 12 midnight. As the club is currently operating under the required 25 percent capacity limit, its three distinct rooms/bars allow guests space between tables, whether they are in the Music Room for live music or viewing the set from video monitors in the Front Bar or Lounge while being offered cocktails and dinner. Admission is free but guests seated at tables must order dinner and abide by all City of Chicago Phase 4 Guidelines. Walk-in guests will be accommodated as seats are available including limited seating at the bars.
The Wild Hare now offers a new menu from its own Jerk Shack Caribbean Barbecue, located within the venue presenting flavors of the Caribbean. Starting from scratch every day and using fresh ingredients, the housemade jerk marinade, secret recipe dry rub and imported Jamaican pimento wood smoke are used for smoking Caribbean barbecue brisket, jerk chicken and Island specialties. An abbreviated late-night menu is also available as well as a variety of signature island-inspired cocktails ($10-14) including Famous Wild Hare Rum Punch, bottled craft and imported beers ($5-6) and wines are served.
Samples dishes include:
- Shareables like Boston Bay Jerk Wings ($10), smoked jumbo wings, marinated in housemade jerk; and Coconut Shrimp ($11), crunchy jumbo shrimp, hand-dipped in flaky coconut batter, served with island slaw and sweet chili sauce
- Handhelds like BBQ Jerk Burger ($14), a 8-oz. premium beef patty with signature dry rub, topped with melted cheese, crispy onion stings and Caribbean BBQ sauce on a fresh brioche bun, served with crispy fries; and Jerk Wrap ($12) with chopped jerk chicken, fresh grilled onion and red pepper, Monterey Jack cheese, lettuce, tomato and Scotch bonnet aioli, wrapped in a warm flour tortilla, served with crispy fries
- Mains like Smoked Caribbean BBQ Beef Brisket Dinner ($19), dry rubbed and prepared low and slow, finished with our Caribbean BBQ sauce, served with coconut rice and peas, braised cabbage and sweet plantains; Our Famous Jerk Chicken Dinner ($16), imported Jamaican pimento wood-smoked chicken in housemade jerk marinade, served with coconut rice and peas, braised cabbage and sweet plantains; and Caribbean Rainbow Salad ($13) with diced jicama, avocado, grilled pineapple, cilantro, cucumber, red onion, tomato and caramelized plantains tossed in housemade honey lime dressing