Meet the owners of Gideon Welles

By Patrick Butler

Like everything else in the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood area, the bar and restaurant at 4500 N. Lincoln Ave. has seen its share of changes.

Over the years, that corner watering hole just across the street from Welles Park has been the Parkside, then Latitudes, and finally the Gideon Welles.

But the one thing Eghan Murphy and his partners, Don Lucey and Joel Messner don’t ever want to see change is the tavern’s reputation as “the kind of place where everyone knows your name.”

Old school neighborhood guys still come back to hang out. It also helps, that there’s still “a strong Irish community here, as well as a German presence. And a good international flavor in the neighborhood,” said Murphy, who “grew up in a bar” in Limerick, Ireland and came over here about 10 years ago and worked for six of those years at O’Schaughnessy’s Public House, 4557 N. Ravenswood.

Murphy and his associates in turn try to stay close to the community doing things like hosting an annual charity baseball game between Gideon Welles’ Irish and American customers to raise “a lot of money” for the Welles Park Recreation Program for kids with special needs who use the park.

Among other things, Gideon Wells also donates food to the St. Benedict parish’s annual Thanksgiving Dinner.
“We were originally thinking of naming the restaurant ‘Shortstop’ because it’s a short stop to the park where a lot of baseball is played, but ‘Gideon Welles’ won out in the end,” Murphy said.

“Gideon Wells (after whom the park was named) was President Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy during the Civil War. We wanted a connection with the park and the neighborhood,” Murphy said.

In keeping with the Civil War theme, even the hamburgers are variously named the “Glastonbury,” after the New England town where Welles was born; “the Union Blockade” and the “Old Neptune,” after the nickname bestowed on Welles by President Lincoln himself.

Murphy, Lucey and Messner’s goals for the future? “To be here 10 years from now,” Murphy smiled. “And to continue growing with this neighborhood.”

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