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Food

Photos: Couple Transforms Rough Watering Hole Into A Mod Bar Highland Park Already Loves

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The Offbeat Bar may share the same address as Highland Park dive Dusty's, but that's where the similarities end.

The bar's new owners, Todd Conner and his wife, Ilka Cuesta, used to work at the original La Cuevita down the street. The Offbeat is the realization of their dream to own a bar of their own.

The original facade of the bar has been restored and the inside has been decorated with a nod to the '60s, with a mod red and black interior, gold stenciled walls and plush booths. But Conner says it isn't really a '60s-themed bar, per se, but "just a bar."

"Just a bar," however, means a lot when you take into account the building's history.

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Dusty's was a serious dive bar with a reputation for attracting a rough crowd. The people I asked about Dusty's seemed to be varying degrees of afraid of the bar, either loving it for its lawlessness or wishing desperately that an '80s Patrick Swayze would come along and save them. Sometimes, it got like this:

Given the tales of previous madness, it wasn't surprising when Conner told me that the neighborhood had been very supportive of his plans for the place, even stepping up in neighborhood meetings to advocate for the bar to be able to stay open until 2 a.m. as opposed to shutting it down earlier.

Conner said he's lived in the area for a decade and wants to be a part of the community, acting as his neighbors' local bar. In that regard, Offbeat is, in fact, "just a bar."

Offbeat has a full bar and will serve a selection of craft beers, some specialty cocktails and a number of sipping whiskeys, but also the usual staples. There's also a cool 'side sipper' special where ordering a beer will get you $2 off a nice shot to nurse. Some nights will have different musical themes and specials.

Offbeat has its grand opening this Thursday, July 3 at 8 p.m..

6316 York Blvd., Highland Park. Open nightly, 5 p.m. - 2 a.m. Happy hour is 5-9 p.m. daily with $1 off beers and $5 cocktails. Nightly specials.