By Jean Lotus
Forest Park's Famous Wine and Spirits at 7714 Madison St. is for sale and negotiations are in play with Cardinal Wine and Spirits, which purchased a Famous Liquors branch at 7533 Roosevelt Road in 2009.
Famous owners Bud and Peter Schwarzbach will retain the property, according to sources.
The shop has long been a favorite of regional neighbors who prize the selection of craft beers, high-end discount wines and apricot pistachio cream cheese. The store keeps in touch with customers online with a wine email list and blog. Some worried whether the store might change its character and maintain its vast wine selection and cheese section if a sale goes through.
"They'd be smart to keep it the way it is," said Carl Schwebl, Forest Park Realtor and former Chamber of Commerce member. Schwebl has been a fan of the shop for decades.
The Schwarzbach family has been running a liquor store in Forest Park since the repeal of Prohibition in 1934. The store celebrated its 75th birthday in 2009.
The parent company, P.E.L. Discount Liquors, owns other liquor stores in Naperville, Highland Park, Barrington and Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood.
According to Bud Schwarzbach, who lives on the North Shore, his grandfather and father owned a Jewish cemetery in Forest Park. Schwarzbach's father jumped into the alcohol business, receiving one of the first liquor licenses in Forest Park. West Town Liquors opened at 7339 Madison and then became a franchise of Foremost Liquors.
When the family wanted to break away from the franchise and change the name of the Forest Park store, they chose a name that would use most of the same letters from their old sign and ended up with "Famous." Bud Schwarzbach worked at the family shop after coming home from the Navy in 1958. He specialized in wines.
The shop moved to an empty Jewel grocery building with parking lot in the late 1990s.
"That move was a big statement on [Madison Street]. That big grocery store sat vacant for quite a while," said Schwebl.
"Bud and his family will be a loss to the street. They were excellent retail merchandisers," Schwebl said.