It’s been more than a year since Wild Onion Brewery announced plans to open its second location in Oak Park. Now the business is a less than a month away from opening its doors for business.

The Wild Onion Tied House folks have spent the last year working on rehabbing the historic “Playhouse Theater” at 1111 South Blvd., in Oak Park’s Pleasant District, and while not much was discovered in terms of historic artifacts, it was learned after the rehab began that significant work had to be done to make the building accessible under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Mike Kainz, co-owner of Wild Onion, said he and the building owner did not realize that the foyer of the establishment was not at ground level, which is an ADA access requirement, so the ground floor — “layers and layers” of concrete and wood, Kainz said — had to be completely removed as part of the building rehab. 

That delayed the project, but now that the work is done, Kainz said. Wild Onion and its construction contractors are putting the final touches on the bar and dining room, which will seat 122 patrons. Seating for another 33 will be available on the sidewalk outside the establishment, he said.

According to a press release, the Wild Onion Tied House will serve many of the same beers offered at its location in Lake Barrington, but the Oak Park location will also brew small-scale specialty batches.

“Some of those styles include the brewery’s original flagship brand, Paddy Pale Ale, along with Beggar’s Brown, Misfit IPA, and a long list of other seasonal styles and cask-conditioned ales,” the news release states. 

Some of the new styles only available in Oak Park will include a Dortmunder-style German lager, a nitro IPA, and variations on Wild Onion’s “Drago”, a Russian Imperial Stout.

Kainz told Wednesday Journal that Wild Onion Tied House plans a “soft opening” on July 12.

“We don’t want to get too busy too fast,” he said, noting that “the light is at the end of the tunnel here.”

Kainz was quick to point out the rehab of the skylight in the building, which originally (the building originally opened in 1913) served as a retractable sky roof which helped cool the building.

“It’s like you’re outside,” Kainz said. “It gives a wonderful open feel.”

Kainz and the Wild Onion staff have collected photos and historic information about the building, which was converted to a movie production company in the 1920s under the name Atlas Educational Film Co.

“We’ve done some digging at the Historical Society (of Oak Park-River Forest),” Kainz said, noting that there were a few pictures and some information on plays performed at the theater. 

“I wish there was more photographic evidence,” he said, adding that once the business opens, he hopes more images and historic information will surface. 

“We’re going to put the feelers out there for any and all information we can get about the building.”


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