Lost Lake opened in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago in January 2015. It was a partnership between Paul McGee, formerly of Three Dots and a Dash, and development group Land and Sea Dept. Martin Cate, owner of Smuggler's Cove, was also involved in Lost Lake, particularly helping with their selection of sipping rums. Its design was less tiki, and more of a nod to the early, streamlined bamboo-focused Pre-Tiki era of Polynesian Pop escapism. Colorful fish floats hung in the front window, and one whole wall was wallpapered with a bold banana leaf motif. Fish trap lamps wrapped the bar area, and the canted ceiling was covered with lauhala and bamboo. There was green vinyl booth seating toward the back, and a rock wall. The beverage program was developed by McGee, with a mix of classic tropical cocktails and his own inventions. Land and Sea Dept. also owned the connected upscale Chinese take-out restaurant, called Thank You.
After an 18-month down-time due to Covid, Lost Lake re-opened in August 2021 with a cocktail menu focused on "Tropical Drinks" (i.e., Margaritas, Pina Coladas, Mojitos, and Daiquiris) instead of "Tiki Drinks" (Zombies, Mai-Tais, etc.) as a concession to concerns that "Tiki" is racist and colonialist in nature. The decor was already fairly sparse by Tiki standards, but they went further by removing several pieces, including the glass fishing floats hanging in the front window, the fishing basket light fixtures over the bar, and the pufferfish chandelier. A picture of a woman in a grass skirt was also taken down, a rock wall was covered with a curtain, and fake skulls were removed from the fish tank.
This closure and re-vamping of their image still proved not enough to combat the difficulties of operating during Covid, however, and Lost Lake's Closure was announced for January 15th, 2022.