Fitz’s Spare Keys closing after 12 years of food, live music and bowling in downtown Elmhurst

A popular Elmhurst bar/restaurant/bowling alley/pool hall/live music venue that has been open for the past 12 years, is permanently closing because of the impact over the past 15 months of the coronavirus pandemic.

The final day of business for Fitz’s Spare Keys is June 30. The venue is hosting a going away party Saturday.

Fitz’s Spare Keys, 119 N. York St., was the vision of owner Brendan Fitzharris, who grew up in Elmhurst and still lives there. He will continue to own and operate Fitz’s Pub, 172 N. Addison St., in Elmhurst, along with Fitz’s Irish Bulldog in Villa Park, Punky’s Pub I Lombard and Fitz’s Thirsty Irishman in Glendale Heights.

At 24,000 square feet, Fitz’s Spare Keys is the largest of Fitzharris’ businesses, which, in many ways, has made it the most challenging to keep open since the pandemic began in March 2020.

“Everything shut down, and we were down 80-90% after reopening; we lost a lot of events, parties of 300-400 people,” Fitzharris said. “Even with the loss of all that business, there still have been a lot of bills to pay. The landlord worked with us, but businesses just wasn’t coming back for us as much as we had hoped.”

Fitz’s Spare Keys hosted many events in its 12 years, including several fundraisers for community organizations.

“Growing up in Elmhurst, it was really nice to be able to help with fundraisers,” Fitzharris said. “I’ll miss the people we met there, but I’m hopeful they will come to our other places, and I’m trying to hire our employees at the other locations, too.”

Along with being grateful to all the employees who worked at Fitz’s Spare Keys over the years, Fitzharris said he wanted to thank all the customers for their support.

“We have had concerts, weddings, birthday parties, reunions and too many fundraisers to count,” he said. “We had the room to hold huge events and help our community.”

Fitz’s Spare Keys became a frequent destination about three years ago for Nicola German, who moved to Elmhurst when her daughter enrolled in Elmhurst University’s music program and often performed at Fitz’s.

“I feel it’s a loss to the music community,” said Germann, who attended several jazz performances at Fitz’s Spare Keys. “There were relationships built there, and I saw other community events going on when I was there.”

Dave Nelson of Arlington Heights said he often went to Fitz’s Spare Keys to see live music and meet friends for dinner.

“It was a good place with lots going on, and everyone who worked there was always friendly,” Nelson said. “It didn’t take long to feel really comfortable there. I’ll definitely miss it.”

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