Update: It looks like this place will close on August 19, not July 15, so that provides more time to enjoy those happy hours (4-8 PM daily), lunch deals, plate of eggs Benedict, Buffalo chicken wings and more.
It began as an offhand comment by a booze supplier a month ago: Have you heard Union is closing? Huh? Union Bar & Grille, the Swire Sanlitun South Village veteran that’s served tasty ribs, Buffalo wings and 35-kuai happy hour Guinness for nearly eight years?
That one comment has since grown to many, all from people in the business, all saying the same thing: this American comfort food joint, my all-time Beijing go-to for eggs Benedict, has less than two weeks to go.
When I recently asked someone in Union management about the rumors, I got the answer, “I can’t comment on that at this time”. Not a good sign. So, if you are a fan of Union, I suggest hustling over there for some eats and drinks during the next two weeks, just in case.
Union opened with the Beijing Olympics in 2008, one of the few F&B outlets in the Village to do so in time, with Blue Frog another notable example. While Union struggled early with service and pricing, it soon became popular for its three-course lunch (then with bottomless coffee), tasty brunches, and comfort foods from ribs to Reuben sandwiches.
It also attracts a steady stream of imbibers, with its smartly designed three-sided bar a place they can settle into, easily order drinks and end up chatting with other nearby customers. I’ve met some intriguing people over the years, from teachers to winemakers to writers to amusement park developers to restaurateurs to a few Harlem Globetrotters. The pours are generous, a quarter of a bottle when it comes to wine, and the happy hour good, with Guinness at rmb35.
A big part of Union’s appeal has also been people, notably former manager Andy Bright, who had a stint of five years, and current manager Charlie, who now carries the torch.
Union is part of Windy City Group, which also has the restaurant Dan Ryan’s and Amaroni’s, among others. It saw a notable closing in Hong Kong in April when the flagship Dan Ryan’s finished its run after 27 years.
I’ll update this post as I get more info re Union.
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