Oak Park could soon be home to a new one-of-a-kind “craft brew lounge,” primarily serving up suds from the Chicagoland area.
Anthony Compaglia, founder and owner of BeerShop, hopes to open his business at 1026 North Boulevard, the former site of Mephisto Shoes, which closed last year.
If approved by the Village Board of Trustees, the shop will be the only place in Oak Park that serves beer but does not offer food. Just don’t call BeerShop a bar, Compaglia said.
He said the establishment is expected to have a dozen beers on tap and roughly 20 to 30 varieties of bottled beer to go. The 1,100-square-foot storefront will have a tasting area with five seats and a table with seating for four.
“We are not a bar; no one is doing shots here,” Compaglia said, noting that BeerShop has been inaccurately characterized in a newspaper story as a bar. “We don’t serve alcohol. We are singularly focused on locally produced craft beer.”
Compaglia said draft beer sales are expected to constitute less than half of BeerShop’s revenue. He added that while the store will have a television, “We’re not going for a sports bar atmosphere.”
The Liquor Control Review Board, a village advisory panel, is currently studying whether it makes sense to allow taverns to operate in Oak Park, but the existing liquor ordinance requires establishments that serve beer or liquor to also serve food.
Compaglia said he is working with nearby restaurants to provide food delivery to the store but was not yet ready to say publicly with which establishments he’s coordinating.
The shop already has received letters of support from the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation and neighboring boutique gift shop, Careful Peach. Karen Morava, Careful Peach co-owner, tells Wednesday Journal that BeerShop is the kind of business that will attract more foot traffic to the area.
Liquor Control Review Board Chairman Victoria Scaman said the owners of BeerShop have appeared twice before the board to make their case. She said BeerShop “would be a destination location for the beer enthusiast to come to Oak Park and go to their store to find beer they can’t find anywhere else.” Like Morava, Scaman said she believes it will help generate customers for other local businesses.
Scaman noted that Compaglia also has agreed to limit the number of beers it serves to customers, noting that she believes BeerShop is a “well thought out business plan.”
“They’re not looking to open a bar but a specialty store for tasting,” she said.
Compaglia, a California native who plans to move to Oak Park once the store is open, said he is using a similar specialty beer shop in Bay Area city of Dublin, Calif. known as Caps & Taps. He said he’s been volunteering at the beer store over the last year to learn the ropes for opening his own operation.
“They’ve been really instrumental in terms of teaching me the importance of working with local brewers and store operations and everything that goes into this,” he said.
He said that like Caps & Taps, his store aims to regularly change out its draft beer selection.
“The idea is that each time a customer comes in there’s a new opportunity to try something different,” he said.
BeerShop still needs the village to approve a zoning ordinance to create a new category for craft brew lounge and the liquor ordinance also must be amended. The proposal was on the village board agenda at this week’s meeting, but the topic had to be tabled until next week because not enough board members were present to establish a quorum.