'Tip Top Tap' opening to public for first time since 1961

CHICAGO (WLS) -- If you've ever walked up and down Michigan Avenue, you've probably seen it on top of the Allerton Hotel: a giant sign that reads "Tip Top Tap."

The place has been closed since 1961, but if you're curious about it, you can drop in for a visit this weekend.

At the corner of Michigan and Huron, you can't miss the "Tip Top Tap" sign. It's been here since the 1920's. And this weekend the Warwick Allerton Hotel and 150 other significant buildings will be open to the public free of charge as part of the Chicago Architectural Foundation's annual Open House Chicago. But let's get back up to the Tip Top Tap and your chance to visit a classic watering hole that closed in 1961.

"The Tip Top Tap ballroom will be open to the public to come view. People who have never been here but have heard stories," said Colette Kukla, director of sales and marketing at the Warwick Allerton.

It is used now as a ballroom or meeting room for private parties in this newly-renovated Warwick Allerton. There hasn't been a wild nightclub scene here in a long time.

So the Tip Top Tap has been closed for 53 years. The bar is gone, unfortunately, but the memories are still here and very much alive.

"The stars that were headliners here. Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball. They performed here," said Kukla.

It was the place to be from the roaring 20s, the 30s, the 40s and up until 1961. And also, in the Tip Top Tap, the Don McNeill breakfast club was a fixture here for years. It made the Tip Top Tap a national celebrity.

"It was broadcast life every morning, Monday through Friday, and was syndicated to over 400 cities around the country. (Live from the Tip Top Tap?) Yes it was," said Kukla.

So what will the new owners do with this treasured antique? Well, it just might reopen.

"Will it be here on the 23rd floor or will it be in another room on the second floor, this is something our team is working on," said Louis VanHeusden, vice president of Warwick International.

There won't be any drinks this weekend, but there might be a few ghosts.

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