Something is brewing in the Pleasant District

Hamburger/microbrewery awaits liquor license approval from village board

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Oak Park Brewing Company/Hamburger Mary's plans to open shop at 1111-1113 South Blvd. in the Pleasant District, according to documents provided to village hall.

Trustees were poised to approve a liquor license for the establishment at Monday's meeting a Village Hall meeting, which was cancelled due to inclement weather.

Oak Park Development Corp. President Sara Faust said in a telephone interview that the businesses have completed all regulatory requirements needed to begin work on the building, which currently is used as office space. All that remains is approval of the liquor license, which is contingent on the company taking possession of the building, which currently is being used for office space.

Faust said the project would require a substantial renovation of the building. Representatives of the joint venture have said at various village board meetings that they hope to open in the second or third quarter of 2014, but it is still uncertain when the project will be complete.

She said approval of the liquor license is a "little hurdle, but we're moving in the right direction. It's not done until it's done, but we are very optimistic and getting closer all the time."

The dual establishment will feature Hamburger Mary's on one side of the building and the brewery on the other side, co-owners of the Chicago Hamburger Mary's franchise told the Oak Park Liquor Control Review Board in September, according to meeting minutes. The brewery will have a sports bar theme and the restaurant will feature two to four drag shows a month and occasional charity events. Co-owners Ashley and Brandon Wright told the liquor control board in September that the drag shows would be "G-rated," according to meeting minutes.

The two businesses will seat an estimated 150 to 200 people and might include an event space on the second level.

Both businesses will offer the same menu.

The brewery will also offer packaged beer sales and provide site-brewed beer to other local establishments, according to meeting minutes. Owners told the board in September that the brewery is looking to brew 1,000 barrels a year at the location and possibly up to 2,000 more for distribution. Faust said at the September meeting the joint venture is looking to invest over $1 million in the project.

The business will not reach the state volume limit of 7,000 barrels annually because the brewery's system is not able to produce more than 4,000 barrels per year, according to the minutes.

The brewery and hamburger restaurant are expected to hire a combined 50 employees.

Simone Boutet, who served as acting village attorney in September, told the liquor control board that issuance of the liquor license "shouldn't be problematic" because of support in the village for establishing the brew pub.


Reader Comments

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Thomas from Oak Park  

Posted: January 12th, 2014 2:16 PM

Can't wait, welcome to Oak Park Mary!!!!


Posted: January 11th, 2014 7:58 PM

Old Caddy dealership NOT in walking distance to the Micro brew review......Plus, they are asking WAY TOO much for that space

m on ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: January 11th, 2014 11:20 AM

Very glad to see new business opening in Oak Park. Hope this trend continues. Would like to see some action in the Arts District empty buildings hopefully soon. This area needs it.

BC from Berwyn  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 9:57 PM

This will be a great addition to OP, however I have always thought a great location for a Microbrewery/gastropub/taproom would be in the old Cadillac dealership on Madison St. Great historic building, large sq. ftg, available parking, and huge windows to display vats, tables, etc.

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 5:53 PM

Owen - If price is the issue, then I suspect the space is priced at more than the market will bear. Borders has been closed for years, and I think that being jilted by Sleepy's is as close as it's come to being occupied.

To Maura  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 4:34 PM

Why would you want someone in such a retail space that wouldn't pay sales tax? Not very smart. Also, against the development rules I believe.

Owen from Forest Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 2:36 PM

@OP Transplant I think it may have had something to do with the price of the prime real estate. I'm sure there's a reason they moved to FP where it's probably a little cheaper than Lake and Harlem. A good business will come, it might just take some time. Maybe the property should be split up a litte for smaller shops?

OP Transplant  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 2:05 PM

I wasn't crazy about the idea of a mattress store either, but then I don't own the building. If I did, I'd be looking for any business that would pay me rent. The real takeaway here is that this space, which Oak Parkers consider prime retail, was rejected by a chain that sells moderately priced mattresses.

Owen from Forest Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 1:39 PM

@No Joke please take the mattress store. It's such an odd thing on Madison street. I'd even prefer (gulp) a chair store to go in there. Basically something that I'll actually use.

Maura O'Hara from Oak Park  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 11:46 AM

Since the mattress store will not be taking the old Border's/Marshall Field location how about D97 take a look? I'm sure it's more square footage than they now have, plenty of parking available and will create foot traffic for Lake Street businesses.

B from OP  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 11:18 AM

It would've been nice if the local paper took a picture of the location for the story. Ya know, get out of the office, hit the town, snap a photo. Just a thought.

No Joke  

Posted: January 8th, 2014 5:22 AM

A Back to Bed store just opened in Forest Park, on Madison! Forest Park gets all the business...even the ones we don't want ;-0

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 11:17 PM

COUNTERBALANCING ?" Thank you for your Sleepy post. It resulted in a reply advising that Sleepy's rescinded their application. I did not know that so your post was both productive and relevant.

Matt Baron from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 10:46 PM

My office was in that building for three years, until a little over a year ago.Great location! I wish the best (and the best possible transaction) for Gene Armstrong, a retired attorney and the building owner since about 1990. The building itself goes back a long, long way---was originally a theater, I think? So some of the uses that are envisioned would bring it full circle, or at least some similar geometrical shape. Historical Society could offer insights on that note

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 10:45 PM

@Marie, No it's on the other side of Marion. West of Marion. West of La Bella and Szechwan Bejing. That address are office buildings right now, so yes, as reported in this news article, the property will need major renovation.


Posted: January 7th, 2014 10:36 PM

Sleepy's rescinded their application for 1144 Lake St. in early December, 2013. Please find a comment that is more productive/relevant to offer. Also, welcome Hamburger Mary's!

Counterbalancing Story  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 9:47 PM

Sleepy's has filed paperwork to open in the former Marshall Fields/Borders landmarked building at Oak Park's entrance. Soooo sleeeepy.

Local Brewer from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 9:12 PM

Don't worry, South Oak Park. There is an effort underway to bring locally brewed craft beer to the very area you mention.

Marie from Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 6:44 PM

Is this the former Oak Park Billiards building?

Serge from Chicago  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 6:20 PM

Cool! One question, though: there is an Oak Park Brewing Company in California. Does this future one in Oak Park, IL related? If not, could be there any legal issues?

South Oak Park  

Posted: January 7th, 2014 12:53 PM

Happy to see this is moving forward! Though, I'm a bit disappointed that yet again the business is going downtown. There are plenty of places available in Southtown or Madison St which would have brought additional business. Nevertheless this should open opportunities for additional breweries to start in Oak Park!

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