Mickey Finn's to relocate and expand in downtown Libertyville
One of the Libertyville's most recognizable downtown businesses will be moving -- but not very far.
Mickey Finn's Brewery, known for its handcrafted beer, burgers and live music, is planning to relocate from its prominent spot across from Cook Park to another Milwaukee Avenue address across the street and about a block south.
The move to a rambling t-shaped building that also has frontage on Church Street, will allow for the expansion of the tavern and brewery and also create rental space for other businesses.
Mickey Finn's owner Brian Grano pegged the purchase and renovation of the spaces at about $2.5 million, and said there should be a noticeable difference in the building's facades and interiors.
"It's going to look like a completely different building," he said.
The new operation tentatively is scheduled to open in September 2013, about a month after the lease at the brewpub's current spot expires.
A desire to own rather than rent as well parking concerns prompted the decision. A favorable commercial real estate market also was a factor as several elements aligned, Grano said.
"I've always wanted to have my own place to lay it out the way I wanted to lay it out," he said. "The timing was perfect."
Billed as Lake County's largest microbrewery, Mickey Finn's on Aug. 11 will be celebrating its 18th anniversary with a rib cook off, pig roast and party. The older portion of the building at 412 N. Milwaukee Ave., has operated as a tavern since 1935, Grano said.
The proposed location at 345-347 N. Milwaukee Ave./111-115 W. Church St., had been owned for about 25 years by what is now Advocate Condell Medical Center. Condell used the building for home and managed care services and a hospice. It also operated the Blue Smock Resale Shop there. Edward Jones Investments is the sole occupant today.
The Milwaukee Avenue side at one time had been a car dealership and garage, with an interior featuring bowstring trusses and a barrel vaulted roof.
"That interesting space has been hidden over the years. We'll be opening it up," said Bob Bleck, architect for the project. He said the current location is inefficient in terms of space, with portions of the kitchen, for example, in the basement.
"We're bursting at the seams," Grano said.
The new building encompasses about 24,000 square feet of which about 15,000 square feet will be occupied by Mickey Finn's. Grano said an out-of-town move had been a possibility.
"This helps him stay in Libertyville and control his destiny," Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler said of the relocation.
All the larger gathering spaces at the new location, which will be about 20 percent bigger than the current quarters, will be on the same floor and the brewery will be expanded to allow for in-house bottling.
"I think everything will be on a larger and better scale," Grano said.
That will include parking. The new location is near the village's Civic Center lot, which has substantially more parking spaces available than Grano currently leases.
What will be happening next door to Mickey Finn's at the former Arden's Furniture & Design, added to the uncertainty. The building was purchased late last year by local businessman Mark Khayat, owner of Austin's Saloon & Eatery. The space remains vacant and no new use is imminent.
"There's so much going on that we're just kind of stepping back a little bit and looking at things," Khayat said.
John Spoden, the village's community development director, said Mickey Finn's has been the "unofficial anchor" of the downtown.
"We're very pleased he's reinvesting in Libertyville," Spoden said of Grano's plan.
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