Olivia? Olivia?! Olivia!?!”
The young woman in the fancy jean jacket calls to her friend, somewhere else on Brady Street but presumably within earshot. By the third “Olivia,” three men in the chaotic crowd are also shouting her name. They clearly do not know Olivia, but it’s the time of night to join in. Bar time on Brady Street.
The bouncers don’t care where their erstwhile patrons go, but they can’t stay here. And who would, when there’s a 2:30 a.m. snack to be had?
Legendary 24-hour diner Ma Fischer’s has closed at 9 during pandemic times, and while there are other options closer to Brady Street, it seems the place to feed the after-bar hunger is Ian’s Pizza, 2035 E. North Ave.
There’s no dining in these days, lending a more liminal vibe to the late-night scene. The people-watching as you wait for your slice to be crisped, though, is still primo. Of course, there are the bar time staples: people in their 20s, laughter, talking at elevated volumes. A young woman in high-heel boots and fishnets gamely tries to comprehend a phone call over the kind of loud club music you’d also hear in a mall clothing store. But there’s a little less of Brady Street’s manic energy here, and you can see the hour setting in. A tall skinny guy’s laugh morphs into a yawn. A woman leans her head on the shoulder of a companion sitting next to her. Most are in groups of two to four, and the couples do not have the look of impending hookups. A different choice has been made – mac and cheese or pepperoni, not my place or yours.
And then, at 2:30 on the nose, the pizzas in the case are whisked away and this well-oiled machine of pizza commerce powers down. If you stuck around for last call up the block, you’ve made your choice. And it ain’t here.