About the Zebra Lounge
Celebrating its 85th Anniversary this year, the Zebra lounge has been in business in Chicago since 1929 and holds the third oldest liquor license in the city. The bar, located off the main Division strip inside the Canterbury Court apartment building, features live piano players seven nights a week. Known for secret celebrity drop-ins over the years, the bar is regularly packed with an eclectic mix of regulars, newcomers, socialites and Elton John junkies.
Fittingly, one must pass under the Canterbury Courts’ black awning to get to this intimate piano bar, where maroon painted walls give way to framed pictures, and zebra-striped lamps. The eccentric bartenders sling drinks and play armchair therapist. In-the-know patrons arrive early to sink into leather booths as pianists tap out an eclectic mix of requests ranging from contemporary to classic – Frank Sinatra to Jay Z and everything in between. Later on in the night, the cozy, pint-sized joint fills up with a diverse crowd that leaves the pretension at the door and ranges from suit-sporting old-timers to reveling college students. From behind the mirror-lined bar, the staff pours martinis, fills wooden bowls with zesty snack mix, and sings along with the piano player. Zebra Lounge is many things; as much a chameleon as it is a zebra.
Longtime employee, Michael Vaughn, became owner of the bar in 2009. Vaughn made few alterations to the classic bar keeping it as true to the original look as possible. Often citing the mantra "You can't buy cool", Vaughn is determined to keep the “simple elegance” of the establishment intact. He decided to start looking at a second location in 2013 when a former employee implored him to check out the Memphis scene. After witnessing the local talent and uniqueness of Memphis, Vaughn agreed the city was the perfect spot for a second location. The Zebra Lounge Memphis location opened in October 2014 in Overton Square, a historic landmark that has been transformed into an arts and entertainment district.
The Zebra Lounge does not accept reservations.