Plans to relocate and expand one of the most recognizable businesses in downtown Libertyville are well under way, though customers of Mickey Finn's Brewery may not be aware of the work in progress.
That's because the volume of space created in years past by connecting separate buildings with frontage on Milwaukee Avenue and Church Street isn't readily apparent.
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"So much of the property is turned away from the street," project architect Bob Bleck said of the combined space at 345-347 Milwaukee Ave., and 111-115 W. Church St., which is being modified for Mickey Finn's and several other businesses. "Most people wouldn't realize it's there."
Previous occupants included the Blue Smock Resale Shop and Advocate Condell Medical Center, which used it for managed care services and a hospice. It has been mostly vacant in recent years.
Noticeable changes are in store inside and out, particularly with the move by Mickey Finn's, which currently is across the street and about a block north.
Known for its craft beer, live music and burgers, the business will grow in size by 50 percent to 15,000 square feet to include expanded brewing operations and a 250-seat banquet hall in a renovated space framed by recently exposed century-old brick walls and bared wood truss ceilings.
The building at 345 N. Milwaukee Ave. perhaps is best known as the former home of Krueger Motors. A succession of interior and exterior improvements are pending in advance of an early fall opening of a move that has been years in the works.
"We have a lot to do in the next five or six weeks," said Mickey Finn's owner Brian Grano. "We'll move the brewery over at the end of July."
Private events, such as weddings and anniversary parties, already are booked for October, he said. Local officials support the idea but a plan commission review, scheduled for Monday, is required before an official vote by the village board.
Mickey Finn's opened in 1980 and the brewery, which produces more than two dozen varieties each year, was added in 1994. Grano, who has owned the business since 2004, said it has outgrown its leased space housed in two stories.
"We're looking at this as the natural, organic growth of Mickey Finn's, the business and the brand," Grano said. It also allows him to own rather than lease and operate on a single floor.
Grano, in turn, will lease about 40 percent of the overall space in the new building. Users include Edward Jones investments, which moved from another spot in the building; ENAZ on the Park, a boutique; a design studio; and a chemical company office.
Bleck said renovations for Mickey Finn's will include Belgian architectural-style influences, such as intricate brickwork and a glass and steel canopy.
"The biggest thing is the front facade will be totally revamped," he said. The architecture, which will include windows that open to the street, is intended to provide an urban feel.
"That whole notion of opening the bar life to the street life is certainly something that has been popular in Chicago the past few years," he said.
Three parties have shown interest in the space Mickey Finn's will leave at 412 N. Milwaukee Ave., landlord Mark Loeb said.
"The history of that space will remain a pub restaurant-type atmosphere," he said. From $350,000 to $500,000 will be spent to refresh the building, he added.
"It's not a done deal yet, but we'll definitely have somebody in there this fall," he said. "I think the community will thoroughly enjoy what we'll be doing with it."
Brewery: Mickey Finn's expansion the 'natural, organic growth' of the business, owner says