Noon Whistle makes its case

Oak Parkers hear pitch from microbrewery hopefuls

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Co-owners of a prospective microbrewery in Oak Park got a mixed reaction from residents at a public meeting Wednesday, some questioning the group's plan to displace existing businesses.

The meeting was held at 18 Chicago Ave., the site where the microbrewery hopes to set up shop and the current home of Derby Lite, a roller derby fitness club, and Legacy Sports Camp, an athletic training facility for kids.

 Both businesses have been at the 7,500-square-foot location for several years, but neither has agreed to sign a long-term lease with Oak Park Apartments, which has leased the property on a month-to-month basis. Noon Whistle is the first business to come along with plans to sign a long-term lease, Oak Park Apartments co-owner Bob Planek told Wednesday Journal in early February.

The brewery is expected to be up and running by October, giving existing businesses a short timeframe for relocating.

Noon Whistle co-owners Paul Kreiner, Mike Condon and Jim Kagle made their pitch to neighbors for their session-beer concept — lower alcohol content craft beers, around 5 percent or less — amid the echoing clang of kids at batting practice.

While many were receptive to the idea of the new business, some asked whether the group could find a different location.

"I think it's awesome that a brewery, especially a session beer brewery, is coming to Oak Park," resident and Derby Lite patron Laurie Freivogel said, but, "there are 1,000 people taking classes here that also need a unique space … and none of us will have anywhere to go.

"I love beer, but I just love skating more," Freivogel said.

Viktor Schrader, vice president of the Oak Park Economic Development Corporation, which helped Noon Whistle scout the location, acknowledged that displacing two businesses for one was "not an ideal situation."

"We've started looking for other locations and hopefully we can find space for them," Schrader said.

Freivogel suggested the business move to a vacant space located at 222 Lake Street, but Schrader said that space was currently under contract with another business.

During the presentation, Condon told residents and neighbors that Noon Whistle would serve primarily as a manufacturing facility and that 90 percent of the product would be sold offsite. The remainder would be sold to locals through the microbrewery's tasting room, which will seat roughly 35-50 patrons.

The tasting room is expected to be open until 10 p.m. and will limit customers to five beers per visit.

While some questioned the decision to locate at the site of Derby Lite, others voiced their support for the new business.

"I've been in Oak Park long enough to see a lot of interested businesses with viable business ideas never get through the Oak Park process," said 15-year resident Marcy Gorrell, questioning whether the village and OPEDC would be able to meet Noon Whistle's aggressive timeline. "I'd hate to see another business leave us to go to Forest Park or to go to somewhere close."

Schrader said his group and the village are "all-hands-on deck" with the project and working to meet the October open date. He noted that the village already has approved a special microbrew liquor license category for Noon Whistle.


Reader Comments

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Christopher Withey from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 5th, 2015 12:58 PM

Hello everyone! Just wanted to let you know that five (5) Noon Whistle draft beers will be served tonight at The Kinderhook Tap 800 S. Oak Park Ave Oak Park,IL 60304 Thanks!

OP Transplant  

Posted: April 22nd, 2014 1:21 PM

Done - Because we as a community can't "put" a business anywhere. Someone with the money to start a business has to choose the place, negotiate a lease,then not be driven away by negative backlash from people who live in the village.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: April 21st, 2014 4:33 PM

Why not put a business like this in the disaster that is Lombard and Harrison? I know it isn't on the north side, but something has to go in that blighted corner before it crumbles down again - this time from inactivity!

We'll show them  

Posted: April 21st, 2014 3:58 PM

Dont invite them to the micro brew review.

Adam Smith  

Posted: April 21st, 2014 3:48 PM

I have no inside knowledge, but perhaps the month-to-month tenant was all this space could attract. So perhaps it was a mutually beneficial arrangement for the property owner and Legacy, Derby, etc. Maybe the month-to-month tenants prevented this property from being just another vacant storefront.

OP Transplant  

Posted: April 21st, 2014 3:14 PM

Yay, we won! A potentially nice business locates elsewhere, and that building remains a craphole! Maybe the owners will now offer a fire-sale lease to a food coop without enough members? Now that's an Oak Park business!


Posted: April 21st, 2014 3:04 PM

The only thing that exceed OP aggorance is our ignorance. We think the world can't survive without us - guess what not only can it survive - it might do better.


Posted: April 21st, 2014 12:24 PM

Well, looks like we lost them. Good old Oak Park Exceptionalism. Noon Whistle Brewing (about an hour ago) We are excited to announce we found our home, 800 east Roosevelt Road in Lombard, IL!

Alissa from Oak Park  

Posted: February 16th, 2014 4:29 PM

This sounds wonderful. I hope that the microbrewery opens and is a huge success. Those of us who live east of Ridgeland (and do so happily) are grateful to everyone who is willing to build a viable business district on our side of OP. I hope that the displaced businesses can find a home w/out too much trouble.


Posted: February 15th, 2014 4:49 PM

@ transplant. Your comments are correct but I am unsure why you continue to use logic to move people who feel they are entitled to have someone else subsidze their sports /roller derby? From the silly comments, I am quite sure most have never run a business, been in an executive role or had to make any tough economic decisions around business. I am done spitting in the wind - wht waste my brain power engaging with people who will never get it?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 9:00 AM

What about letting a business operator and a property owner negotiate between themselves, come to an agreement on price and length of lease, and everyone else butt out? This is how Oak Park, for all its protestations to the contrary, has developed a nasty negative reputation with businesses looking to locate there. Enough. Reasonable regulation is one thing. Busybody nitpicking is quite another.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 15th, 2014 8:49 AM

Yep - What people don't seem to understand is that nobody can "put" the brewery anywhere. The business owners have a right to choose a location, and negotiate a price and lease. They've chosen a location and made a mutually beneficial deal with the building's owner. Unfortunately, the current tenants now have to relocate. That's a chance the current tenants knowingly took when they declined to sign a longer lease. Everybody is being treated fairly. Let's welcome a new business to the village!


Posted: February 15th, 2014 4:01 AM

What about putting the brewery in the old Foley Rice used car space. Where Aldi was going to set up? Perfect location.


Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:57 PM

Isn't there another Derby whatever office on Humphrey and South??

Welcome to OP, Noon Whistle!  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 6:23 PM

I think y'all need a tall, cool craft beer - leave the animosity at the door. Any of you ever go to a tavern with your parents as a kid? Kids riding past will be ok, and the roller derby will be ok too. Chill......

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 4:58 PM

Huh? - It doesn't really matter how many businesses your are "involved in," whatever the hell that means. You're not involved in this one, making your opinion completely irrelevant. January 31st article explains how the owners hope to make food part of the experience (food trucks, allowing carry-in.) Or did I fail to comprehend that? Go ahead and withhold your approval of this project, and see if that grinds the process to a halt. I'm guessing not.

Huh? from Oak Park   

Posted: February 14th, 2014 4:34 PM

OP transplant, tell us, oh wise one, how many successful businesses you have? Then, when you give specifics, I might share all the ones I am involved in. As one who has looked for similar spaces around here, I assure you, there are plenty of places for NW. Also, where did you see they are serving food? Read for comprehension, sweetie. It helps you not look like such a schmuck when you clearly misunderstand.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 3:44 PM

Progressive - We're talking about businesses, not social service agencies. The fact is that "rich white people" pay most of society's bills. It's a stupid business owner who doesn't try to market to an affluent audience. If the existing businesses were interested in keeping that location, they'd have signed a long-term lease. If they won't commit to the community, how can you knock a business that will?

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 2:11 PM

I bet you "progressives" would be doing back flips if Noon Whistle proposed a soup kitchen. Noon Whistle just needs to say they will hire a few ex-cons in the kitchen and train them. Then they can check their liberal do gooder box to appease some Oak Parkers. Of course, then they'd get picketed for not offering a "living wage"


Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:53 PM

Displace a sports camp where kids get lots of good exercise, so rich white people can drink beer. Way to stay ahead of the curve, Oak Park.

Pessimist from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:42 PM

If development was going to happen along Austin, Starbucks and Walgreens would have already opened up shop. Been here almost a decade and I still have to drive westwards to shop. It's well known that if you're east of Ridgeland, you're not really in OP. This is my neighborhood, and these are my neighbors. Businesses are not opening around here, they're closing. Not sure know how you can make the leap from "rude awakening" to "negative" and "unwelcome." Oh, right. Because it's the internet.

Lisa from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:41 PM

As a business owner on Madison Street in FP, and not on Madison Street in OP, there is a very good reason for that...just cross over to the "dark side" and you will see why! OP needs to sit up and take notice of what's happening over here on the dark side...


Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:35 PM

what happened to this wonderful town? I was born in OP, left for 20 years to go to top schools, work and live around the world. When we returned only to find OP a empty shell of its former self.. the hallmarks that made this place great - thinkers, who accept new ideas and are open to change have been forced into hidding - by the naysayers, the cliqish groups and I am son much better than you are! Please bring back the OP we love or at leaset evolve from today...

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:19 PM

Noon Whistle owners know what the area is. That is there business if and where they want to open. Lagunitas Brewing is opening in the Douglas Park area of Chicago with a tasting room also. Not a great area there, but they are doing it. SO NEGATIVE some of you are, that is why this town has such a terrible reputation. If you do not like it, do not visit the place. But I will. Welcome!

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:19 PM

Pessimist, your name is fitting. If Noon Whistle wants to risk capital to open a business that could potentially spur other development, I'm all for it. This area of Oak Park desperately needs real investment. You'd be surprised at how quickly things start to gentrify if one business, especially restaurants are successful.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 1:06 PM

Still. some people are putting up their own money to try. If Oak Parkers patronize this business, it's a step in the right direction for a corner of the village that can use it. Plus, I like both food and beer!

Pessimist from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 12:59 PM

Anyone who has spent any time on the Austin border of OP, in particular the corner at Chicago, can readily predict that NW is in for a rude awakening if they occupy 18 Chicago. It's hard to believe that one new establishment is going to result in a cascade of gentrification for this crime-riddled corner.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 12:24 PM

Huh? - Since you are neither sharing in the risk assumed by those starting this business nor potentially going to benefit from the reward if it is successful, your opinion is just not relevant. My grandfather used to say, "Be quiet, boy. Grown folks talkin'."


Posted: February 14th, 2014 12:12 PM

huh - again, not your problem or concern. You are spitting into the wind, ice skating up a steep hill - you get the point. Any analysis must consider all previous deals as sunk - ie. make it upon the go forward analysis - and the new deal is better for OP. Step back, remove your emotions and you will see that we are right ... join us in the big boy world of business

Huh? from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 12:05 PM

So... who has numbers? How much tax revenue will this brewery bring in? How long will they be there before they outgrow the space? Let me guess.. three years, the time of the lease and exactly how long it will take for property taxes to reflect any growth. So, tell me again how this is good for us? Another empty site in three years. Yay.

Paddy Boy  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 12:02 PM

If they like they can open the bar in me garage .....

This is why this town sucks  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 11:47 AM

@JK @Huh?: Whether the business succeeds or not is the owners' and landlord's problem. Would think the landlord has seen the business plan in order to agree to take the risk on a long term lease. Again, you do not like it? Buy the building (and pay the taxes on it) and lease it out yourself. Busy bodies like you make OP suck.

OP Transplant  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 11:43 AM

This guy is signing a long-term lease in order to have a space where he plans to produce and sell a legal product in the village of Oak Park. And he's doing it in a part of town that can, let's be honest, use a nice establishment. And people are complaining? I am sometimes simply bewildered by the people in this village.

Huh? from Oak Park   

Posted: February 14th, 2014 11:41 AM

This is like killing a black rhino in the name of delivering an new black rhino. I want new businesses. I love new businesses. I will support new businesses, but I am kind of surprised at how people are buying into the NEW! NEW! NEW! and refusing to acknowledge who and what has been the anchor for this barely burgeoning strip for the past 5 years. Good grief, his is so Oak Park. I know, maybe they can put the new D97 admin building next door!


Posted: February 14th, 2014 11:31 AM

@ M. exactly my point. We have serious issue/problem attracting business and yet, act like everyone else has the problem. Until we take a good, hard and intelligent look at ourselves here is what i predict - taxes rise higher than gpd, schools stay sidways, and business dont come here. The sad part is we dont want the truth - because we want to feel better than austin, berwyn etc. GET REAL

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 11:28 AM

Agree with Marty and Why this town sucks, and others. It's ridiculous to whine about displacing businesses that don't care enough to sign long term leases. They're not being "displaced," they're opting out by their decision not to commit to the location long term. The property owner has rights too, and we should welcome businesses that lease long term. Whether it with flourish or fail is the business owners problem, not the neighbors. It's a business district, folks. Deal with it.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 11:24 AM

That's the problem with this whole area, you all want it perfect!! Businesses work and do fail. I am tired of my taxes going thru the roof. FP Madison is what OP needs. Otherwise, just keep sending business elsewhere and the town fails!


Posted: February 14th, 2014 11:20 AM

The tone and tenor for the discussion is the exact reason OP has devolved and struggles to get it's mojo back. The previous generation was comprised of progessive intellectuals (smart open minded people) that has been replaced with entitled exceptionalism (not really smart but act like the work owes us and we are better that everyone else). There is no pro or against, we are laying out the facts - deal with it or get out the bug boy world of business discussion

JK from op  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 10:55 AM

The insults getting flung by the pro-Noon Whistle people are really something. Nice community spirit! To me, you are the ones who are short sighted. Really -- a wholesale business without any dedicated parking? How long can that last? Yeah, there's a long-term lease...yay!!! But what about if/WHEN they fail? Maybe we shouldn't displace businesses that serve the community for a poorly thought out vanity project that stands no chance of succeeding.

RF from OP  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 10:44 AM

I think the original local ords required food to be served. Should we think twice about allowing bars? Would we want a FP style Madison St. atmosphere ??

This is why this town sucks  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 10:25 AM

How stupid are people in this town? Are you really serious that a landlord should reject a long term lease when Roller Derby and Legacy refuse to commit to a lease of more than 30 days? Obviously you people are not business owners. How about you whiners actually buy the building and lease it to Roller Derby on a month-to-month basis? It is inconceivable to me how absolutely moronic a good chunk of the citizenry of this town is. Amazing.

M on Ridgeland from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 10:05 AM

It is too bad that these other businesses will get displaced but they are not signing a long term lease. That's the risk. There are plenty of empty spaces along Harrison in Arts area, but again tied up in legal mess. This brewing concept is the new trend going on. Examples of this is Half Acre Chgo, Solomon Oath in Naperville. They have limited hours and seem to work very well with neighbor's in the area. We need to be attracting businesses to our town, we need the revenue!!!

Marty Bracco from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 8:43 AM

This looks like a great addition to our neighborhood. Imagine, a business actually producing a product and sending to out to the world.Mr Planek is making a sound decision to reduce business risk through the long term lease. The displaced groups knew the risks. Now, what is a solution for them? It seems to me the VOP - owned Volvo building at 260 Madison is a near identical, or larger, footprint to the 18 Chicago property. Since 260 is unlikely to be bought & developed in our lifetime, the VOP & OPEDC could convert the space to suit those groups & charge month-to-month rent hopefully cover costs. 260 could be a small business incubator of sorts.


Posted: February 14th, 2014 8:39 AM

Sam I just don't agree with ur argument. People can eat a full meal & drink 12 cocktails & still be legally drunk. U can also go 2 these establishments that serve food & choose to sit at the bar & just order drinks.. Winberies, Bar Louie, Lake Street Kitchen & Bar, Poor Phils, etc... following ur logic we would have 2 close these establishments with a "bar" in order 2 make Oak Park safe. Not every patron orders food. Sam, you can't control every risk posing scenario.


Posted: February 14th, 2014 8:36 AM

@sam. really? there are plenty of places to purchase beer in town. Your arguement is essentially. people near austin are more likely to buy beer (high priced) and sit in tasting room than go to local store and by cheap/easy booze? again, think this thru - in a calm intelligent manner - then use logic.


Posted: February 14th, 2014 8:27 AM

Wendy -- The Lake St. establishments serve food, too, reducing the likelihood that people are going there with the sole intention of getting looped. And the expectation is that folks who go to nearby liquor stores don't sit in the parking lots and get sloshed. This new bar/ manufacturer/artists' retreat -- call it what you want -- could choose to serve only non-alcohol beer. But if they did, few people would go. So be it. I'd much rather have businesses in town that don't pose risks to others.


Posted: February 14th, 2014 8:14 AM

huh - the obvious escaped me :-) Of course space is available but lets use our intelligence to think this thru. Are the spaces likely to allow month to month for business or want these type of businesses - likely no. So yes, space is availabe BUT not for this business. The free riders who enjoy the space will of course fight like hell to save it - they know wont get another deal like this... again, lets think beyond the obvious..


Posted: February 14th, 2014 8:10 AM

Do we detect a hint of " we cant serve beer cause near austin"? if this were near harlem, would it be as much of issue? likely not. Entitled meaning - acting as if the owners fo building owe you any explanation or say in matter. you are frankly irrelevant - this is a good idea and smart business.

Wendy from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 7:34 AM

Oh and Sam - This brewery manufacturing plant is intended for Chicago and Austin - Holmes school is at Chicago and Kenilworth. Which is also just a short distance away from all the Lake Street/Marion Street establishments that serve alcohol.

Wendy from Oak Park  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 7:28 AM

It is not a bar. Like a winery it is a manufacturing plant with a tasting room. Limited hours. This sounds like a hip, cool new place 2 provide another anchor to an area that could use something to help start the revitalization process. & @Sam know there r multiple liquor stores within walking distance that these drunken drivers you speak of can buy booze that is more than 5% alcohol - which is probably what they'd prefer. Cheap booze more alcohol content... not a craft beer...

Sam Roe  

Posted: February 14th, 2014 5:44 AM

Is a bar (and that's what this business essentially is) the best thing for the neighborhood? I fear it would contribute to drunken driving. We have too many kids who live around Chicago Avenue, riding their bikes, hanging out at Holmes School, crossing the street to go to baseball or soccer practice, to make this a sound idea. If the business is about the "craft" of beer, the owners should vow to serve non-alcohol beer only.

Huh? from Oak Park   

Posted: February 13th, 2014 10:49 PM

Are you serious? Entitled? What Oak Park planet are you living on where storefronts and commercial spaces are full and displacing long term tenants for a near beer folly is "good business"?


Posted: February 13th, 2014 10:37 PM

Of course there are other vacant buildings but the issue is they wont let people rent month to month OR they dont want the building used for that purpose. Yes, Derby and Legacy have a good thing going and we have "free riders" who enjoy their deal. But surely, we cant expect any rational person (or put pressure on them) to reject a long term, stable client. Any no, they were not paying the same amount. Lets be logical and business like in our analysis vs. feeling entitled as if someone owes


Posted: February 13th, 2014 10:20 PM

Again, this is a simple decision. Long term lease with consistency and unique business. The reality is the businesses currently using the facility would never get a deal leaving the owner exposed month to month. How about this - be grateful for what you had, stop whining and acting like anyone owes you anything and support OPD and new business. Why do we expect people to make poor business decisions? this is not high school - try running a business then opine. until then - chill out.

Pamdemonium from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 10:06 PM

And still there are large space sitting vacant at 215 Harrison (Pan's grocery has been gone for 20 years) and 333 Harrison (the Juice Factory Building) And the Arts District would be a perfect place for a "craft brewery". But alas, those properties are still tied up in the legal system or being intentionally left vacant and the Village of Oak Park is unable to figure out any creative solutions.

OP Resident #296 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 9:58 PM

Are we seriously having a discussion about finding retail space in Oak Park? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha HA HA HA (SNORT) ha ha HA ha HA HA HA HA (side stitch). Stop, you're killing me! Most of Madison is vacant and would love a few new business. Rent is probably cheap. For a higher rent you can find space in downtown OP. The current tenants won't sign longer term leases. Would we rather have more vacant storefronts in OP?

Huh? from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 9:49 PM

I am fascinated that there are absolutely no other locations the OPED can find in the village limits. Displacing existing businesses? Way to go OP! More heated sidewalks, too?

Mike S from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 9:25 PM

How about the space where Robinson's Ribs is/was???

Not Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 8:52 PM

You know of places with a minimum 50'x80' clear span, Bob?

Miss Helaneous from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 8:48 PM

Derby Lite and Legacy Sports are just two of eight organizations that use this facility. There are hundreds of local women and children who depend on this space for their weekly sports and exercise programs. None of those groups can afford the entire facility on their own, but together they make up nearly the same rent as what NW is offering.

Chris b from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 8:19 PM

Very good point Bob. Another point- about 2 years ago a young couple friend of mine moved to an apt nearby. They did not have kids. They were bored out of their mind, not enough life on the street, not enough walkable places. They left and now live back in the city. Maybe when kids come along, they will be back, maybe not. We need to keep remembering that we need the Millennial adult here, spending their money here. Otherwise, we will gray out the whole place.


Posted: February 13th, 2014 8:09 PM

Who'd you rather have as a tenant? Someone who is on a month-to-month agreement or someone who is financially stable enough to sign a long term lease? I think there are enough empty buildings to accommodate the other businesses!

Chris b from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 8:06 PM

While I do not like to see any business get displaced, this location would bring sorely needed recognition and life to a viable business area in our village, one that is not Lake St. The building has charm and a new business ( not a service business, like the others) will attract other new business to come to this north part of town. I wish them luck in their new endeavor!

Tom Gull from Oak Park  

Posted: February 13th, 2014 6:46 PM

Any estimate on the tax revenue the micro brewery would bring to Oak Park versus revenue from DerbyLite and Legacy Sports?

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