There's no denying that 1020 is a pretty shabby joint. Sticky floors (and often enough tables). Occasionally skunked taps. No such frivolities as bowls of peanuts or pretzels or popcorn lined up on the bar or particularly clean bathrooms (though I have only seen a roach there once, years ago). It gets ridiculously crowded with largely obnoxious college kids on weekends and sometimes weeknights. In other words, it's got a lot not going for it.
But there's something about the place that I adore, especially on days like yesterday. I arrived a few minutes before Nick, bellied up to the bar, ordered a $3 Goose Island IPA, grabbed a booth, pulled out my book, and found myself looking around through rain-speckled glasses, inexplicably grinning.
At the warmth after the wind- & rain-driven walk down from 117th Street. At the blue and green twinkle lights cheerily brightening up the front window as full dark settled in outside. At the white twinkle lights festooned from ceiling to walls, right angles softened by their glow reflected off the wood that makes up much of the place. At the cost of my beer and the smile of greeting the bartender tossed my way along with his amicable "What can I get you, honey?"
I've been hearing this phrase from this man every few months or so for, believe it or not, going on sixteen years now. We haven't exchanged much more than pleasantries and yet his quiet kindness always makes me happy.
And that's the thing about 1020. It's dirty and it's gritty and it's cheap and at the wrong times it's full of raucous obnoxious college kids. But at the right times (five o'clock happy hours, quiet Sunday evenings), it's that homey warm kind of place that makes pretty much the perfect local dive.