Remembering Alumnus and Lincoln Park Business Owner, John P. Kelly (LAS ’68)

Last month, the DePaul family and the larger Lincoln Park community mourned the loss of beloved Kelly’s Pub owner, John P. Kelly (LAS ’68).

Kelly’s Pub opened in Lincoln Park in 1933, following the repeal of prohibition laws, and remains one of Chicago’s oldest family-owned pubs, according to the pub’s website. The pub is a

Perhaps one of the most recognizable features of Kelly’s is DePaul’s former mascot, “Billy the Blue Demon,” painted on the side of the building.

staple of Lincoln Park, and was even featured in the 1986 film “About Last Night,” starring Demi Moore, Rob Lowe and Jim Belushi.

Born and raised in Chicago, Mr. Kelly graduated from high school at DePaul Academy before joining the Air Force. At times, while earning his DePaul degree and during law school, family members took over behind the bar.

“It was a family adventure,” Kelly stated in his interview with the Chicago Tribune. “I always tried to maintain it, keep it as a bar, don’t get fancy, don’t get terra cotta bricks, stuff like that. Keep it as a bar.”

“A bar is made for people to talk,” Kelly said. “They come in, they look for the conversations. They’re looking for community.”

In honor of John, we asked you to share your favorite Kelly’s memories. Here are some of the comments we received:

“Everyone who ever attended DePaul in the 60’s or 70’s knew Kelly’s and Kelly. God bless him. He and his establishment carried the DNA of legit Chicago.” – Carla Michelotti (LAS ’72, JD ’75, DHL ’08)

Kelsey Dave PostCeremony-20
Dave (BUS ’09) and Kelsey (EDU ’08) Schleyer share a moment in front of Kelly’s on their wedding day.

“My husband, Dave Schleyer (BUS ’09), worked at Kelly’s throughout college, making it our ‘spot.’ Many beers, late nights and lots of love came out of Kelly’s. So when we got married at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in May 2016, Kelly’s was a go-to for a celebratory cheers.” – Kelsey Schleyer (EDU ’08)


“So many fun memories at Kelly’s! Not just all the late outings with friends – but even the afternoons on the patio and lunches when Mama Criscione would cook in the back 💕 started when my husband and I went to school there and continuing the memories with our son as he is at DPU💙 – Susan Labovic (CMN ’89, MED ’03)


“There was a pecking order when I first walked into Kelly’s as an 18 year-old sophomore at DePaul. In homage to its proximity to DePaul, the main tap was a steel replica of a basketball, with four taps coming out of it. It took me about four years to move from the front window to the basketball tap. Family Corner was in reach after that.” – Michael O’Connor


“I loved Kelly’s! Best cheeseburgers in the world. I used to work with John’s sister, Fran, at the School For New Learning as a teacher’s aide my freshman and sophomore years. We used to sit out on the deck built for the filming of “About Last Night.” Every time I’m back home, I have to pay a visit for a burger and beer.” – Zoi Kavvadas (LAS ’95)


Maureen Chiricotti (LAS ’79) poses with her daughter, Kelly Chiricotti (CMN ’09), in front of Kelly’s.

“I met Mr. Kelly in the fall of 1976, when I was a freshman at DePaul. Frequented Kelly’s Pub for the next four years. My father was a professor of music at DePaul and our entire family had the utmost respect for Mr. and Mrs. Kelly. My daugher, Kelly Chiricotti (CMN ’09) and son, Sean Chiricotti (CMN ’10), both attended DePaul and lived on the Lincoln Park Campus as well. Throughout the years, they celebrated all school events there, along with all of their friends. We love Kelly’s Pub and have the luck of the Irish to remember the best of times with the Kelly clan🍀☘️🍀” – Maureen Chiricotti (LAS ’79)


“Kelly’s was a favorite after a long week at school. Friday afternoon before getting on the train to go home, I would stop in with friends and enjoy a couple of beers and relax and unwind. RIP John Kelly. I wish I had pics from there, but that was before cell phones! 💙❤️☮️” – Elizabeth Piper


“Too many fond memories to mention. That patio on warm nights was the place to be. Thank you to the Kelly family.” – Tamara ZumMallen (CMN ’92)


yearbook013 2
Throwback DePaul photo taken from the Class of 1979’s yearbook.

“Kelly’s was the place to go!! Especially after a Blue Demons game!” – Ruth Gaa (CSH ’75)


“I remember being in awe of standing in the same place About Last Night was filmed with the girls having drinks out in the beer garden. Felt so chic, urban and cool to me!” – Annie Miskewitch (LAS ’00, MA ’03)


“My boyfriend at the time stole me a beer mug from Kelly’s and I still have it.” – Amy Towler (BUS ’93)


“His legacy even goes back to my days at DePaul…the end of an era for sure.” – Debbie Pausche Ferrari (BUS ’79)


As we continue to remember John P. Kelly and his presence in the community, we are certain that his legacy will continue through the connections and community he established at Kelly’s Pub.

Read John’s full obituary here.


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