Two Brothers Brewing Co. could open at shuttered Marion Street Cheese

Attorney for Marion Street Cheese Market owner says letter of intent signed

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

Marion Street Cheese Market, a restaurant and food retailer which closed in September after spending half a million dollars remodeling and rebranding the store, could be the new site of a Two Brothers Brewing Co. full-service restaurant.

Masaru Takiguchi, an attorney representing Mary Jo Schuler, majority owner of Marion Street Cheese and owner of the property which housed it, said the owners of Two Brothers have signed a letter of intent to purchase the 5,000-square-foot commercial condo at 100 S. Marion St. The commercial space is on the ground floor of the Opera Club condominium building.

A Two Brothers spokesman released a statement confirming the company had signed the letter of intent, but the company declined to discuss the deal until they've completed the acquisition.

The potential deal was first reported Wednesday by Crain's Chicago Business.

Takiguchi said Two Brothers – founded in 1996 by brothers Jason and Jim Ebel in Warrenville, Illinois – is reviewing the property to determine the feasibility of the restaurant, which will feature Two Brothers beer, coffee and tea.

Unlike many other commercial spaces in Oak Park, Two Brothers is looking to purchase the space, rather than renting, Takiguchi said.

"They're going through the steps right now so that everybody understands what they're selling and buying," he said.

It still is uncertain how long it might take to complete the deal, Takiguchi said, noting that such deals typically take 60 to 90 days.

"It will definitely be this year," he said.

Two Brothers currently has locations in Warrenville, Aurora, Naperville and Scottsdale, Arizona.

Marion Street Cheese closed in September 2016 due to lagging sales, according to then-operating partner Grant Slauterbeck. Prior to Marion Street Cheese closing, the restaurant and high-end cheese shop had spent roughly $500,000 to rebrand the business and remodel the restaurant.

If the deal goes through, Two Brothers won't be the only craft brewery in the area.

Wild Onion Brewery – also owned by two brothers, Mike and John Kainz – announced plans last May to open a new restaurant and pub at 1111-1113 South Blvd. It's uncertain where the project currently stands.

The Kainz brothers said in May they intended to have the location up and running by Thanksgiving 2016.

CONTACT: tim@oakpark.com

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Jim Coughlin  

Posted: February 4th, 2017 5:17 PM

Will Two Brothers Brewing be gifted with TIF funds or is that another secret deal that the Village Board won't be sharing with taxpayers? It would be most helpful to learn exactly how businesses are determined to be eligible for TIF money and who ultimately makes that call.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: February 3rd, 2017 2:18 PM

TIFs are slush funds that grant politicians access to millions of tax dollars with scant oversight, no transparency and zero accountability. That's probably why there's such strong resistance to opening the books for public inspection.,even in Oak Park. Consider the fact , no person who's served on our Village Board has ever proposed TIF reforms. I would like to see Oak Park become a model for the nation by enacting regulations and policies that result in the most open and honest government. That means ending sweetheart and backroom deals. requiring an open and competitive bidding process for all goods and services contracts, opening the TIF books for public inspection and a forensic accounting review. And, most importantly, promoting and engaging in a meaningful dialogue with residents without them facing a threat of being dismissed as our Village President has declared "not in their right mind".

Barbara Joan  

Posted: February 3rd, 2017 12:01 PM

TIF $ is a big slush fund for pols to provide ;gifts' to whoever they please...The outdoor dining area at Marion St. Cheese Market ( and Winberie's)) is in violation of accessibility regulations concerning public walkways--why is that allowed?

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 6:36 PM

Kevin, Ben Javorsky of The Reader has written extensively on TIFs and how many politicians are misusing funds and violating the spirit and intent of the program. Impoverished communities could divert tax revenues to spur economic development. Is building a basketball arena for DePaul an appropriate use of TIF funds? Oak Park nearly got taken for $50,000 when one of this Village Board's "favored developers" tried to pull a fast one. None of our elected officials or economic development experts had a clue about the con but concerned residents took action and stopped the scam. Let's have a forensic accountant look at the complete history of all of the TIF collection and spending practices. Have TIF districts proven to be a boon or a bust for the residents and taxpayers of Oak Park? Those who back these special financing districts say "Yes!" but offer no evidence.Let's get all the facts now before any more created or extended.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 5:59 PM

I am aware of three candidates who have indicated they are in support of opening the TIF books for public inspection, Bruce. Andrews. Boulet and Moroney may be the only ones who believe the taxpayers have the right to know how tens of millions of dollars are collected and spent. There's been no effort by any current Village Board to honor their campaign promise of greater transparency. The claim that there is information on all of Oak Park's TIFs available on the Village's website is deceiving. Details are very limited and no information about how the bidding process was conducted for goods and services contracts. I too would like every candidate for Village Board to go on the record.

Kevin Peppard  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 5:46 PM

Jim & Bruce: Here is a start on seeing how much money has been diverted from schools, etc. via TIFs. This is a link to David Orr's County Clerk's site: http://www.cookcountyclerk.com/tsd/DocumentLibrary/SuburbanTIFTotalsSummary2015.pdf Close to $11 million in Oak Park was diverted in 2015. The cumulative amount diverted from the "Greater Mall Area" has been close to $160 million since its inception in 1983, and from the "Madison Street Business Corridor", $32.5 million since 1995, up through 2015. Some of this would have gone to the Village itself and to the County and other bodies, but the majority was taken from the Schools, Parks, and Libraries. Did we get our money's worth at those TIF sites? Will those districts ever make that money up in increased value they can recoup? These TIFs are the Village's slush fund, for people who think they're in the business of picking and choosing commercial winners. They have failed miserably. We are exceeded in TIF diversion by only four suburbs. Glenview (Naval Air Station redevelopment), Rosemont (the Stephens family fiefdom), Hoffman Estates (Sears HQ),and Cicero ( AT &T Hawthorne Works, etc.). David Orr is blowing the whistle on things, God bless him

Bruce Kline  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 4:50 PM

Jim that is exactly one of the questions that every trustee candidate should be asked: "will you advocate opening the TIF books for public scrutiny?"

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: February 2nd, 2017 3:21 PM

How much TIF money was provided to the owners of the Marion Street Cheese Market? Will taxpayers ever learn the total amount of tax dollars spent on local businesses including those that have since closed? Open the TIF books for public inspection and submit all financial records for a forensic accounting examination. Abu-Taleb and the current board of trustees refuse to open the books because it is not required by law. But, there's no actual restriction against providing the information to taxpayers.It's time for full transparency of the TIFs from the Village Board!

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