Bar patrons in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago are mourning the loss of resident bar cat, Radley, who made The Empty Bottle bar his home.
Radley was the first of the pub’s bar cats, all named after To Kill a Mockingbird characters. The other cats came and went, but Radley made the empty bottle his home for sixteen years. Estimates place Radley at about 19 years old.
Owner Bruce Finkleman reminisced, “The door was always open for him. He would roam around outside, he would sometimes leave for a couple days and come back. You know, he was free to go. And sometimes you would see a band start and you would see this black blur fly across the room as he was trying to exit the bar as quick as possible. And sometimes he would just sit on top of the bar and just be like really enjoying the bands. I remember watching a Red Red Meat show once a long long time ago and Radley was just sitting there, going, ‘Okay, I like this.’ Some bands, he liked so much, hed try to stowaway and join them on tour.”
Staffer Ryan Rafferty added, “You could tell when he was into a band. There would be some nights that before even the second band was done playing, before the headliners would get up on stage. He would get up and crawl into a guitar case or a bass drum and, you know, make his home up there.”
Radley’s favorite band was one that never played live at The Bottle. Rafferty recalled, “Every time Heart would come on, especially Magic Man, he had a little extra pep in his step.”
Not that there weren’t issues with the aging cat making the bar his home. Finkleman said that as Radley got older, he was starting to get a little bit more territorial and a little bit crazier. He started marking his territory. And instead of marking his territory in any normal place, he decided that his space that he was going to mark was going to be where the drummer would usually set up on the stage.
Finkleman said that it got to a point where, bands around the country would come in and the first thing they would say is, it smells like home.
We’ll be hoisting our next pint to you, Radley!
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