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Medinah's only bar braces for Ryder Cup crowds

(Matt Linder/For RedEye )
September 26, 2012|Matt Lindner, @mattlindner | For RedEye

With the Ryder Cup set to tee off a short 5-iron shot from the front door of his bar, Gaynor's Irish Pub, you'd be hard pressed to find a more popular guy in Medinah these days than Paul Kopulos.

That's because Gaynor's happens to be the only bar inside city limits and will see thousands of pedestrians walking past it on Medinah Road en route to Medinah Country Club for the Ryder Cup. Through two days of practice at the course, business has already far exceeded his expectations.

"We're running out of everything," he said, a harried look on his face. "I've gotta go out to the store again. You can't keep up with it. It's crazy."

Kopulos himself has been working 16 hours a day or longer all week to make sure he's prepared for what he's calling the biggest weekend in the nine years he's owned Gaynor's.

"We had the PGA here about six, seven years ago and we didn't do well at all only because there was a different traffic configuration, so we got no pedestrian traffic," he said. "Everything was blocked off."

That's not the case anymore. His bar was a flurry of activity Wednesday morning with dozens buzzing about, despite the fact that it was only 9:30 a.m.

Staff members were setting up beer lines, putting up a tent and making sure everything was clean for the crowds expected to converge on the bar this weekend. Patrons getting off the Metra stopped by to grab a brew and check out the scene, which was steadily growing even at 9:30 a.m.

All in all, it's far from a typical Wednesday for Kopulos and his crew.

"We got here about 7:30 this morning," said his mother, Sharon, who helps him run the bar. "This is not a typical Wednesday. We wouldn't even be here this early."

Kopulos describes his bar as being laid back, the kind of place you'd go to learn anything you could possibly want to know about the handful of people who call Medinah home.

And while the competition on the course this weekend is expected to be fierce, Kopulos said the competition for space in his bar among vendors has been equally intense.

"All the vendors start coming in, hitting you up," he said. "They all want a spot in here and you've just gotta negotiate with them. It's just like anything, bottom line, what's in it for me? That's the way America is."

Matt Lindner is a RedEye special contributor.

Read about how to get to Medinah on public transit HERE.

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