Last call for Mickey Finn's brew pub before move to bigger Libertyville space

It's ready to move into bigger location

Last call is coming for one of Libertyville's most popular gathering spots, but the party will continue just down the street in a larger renovated space.

On Sunday, Mickey Finn's Brewery will serve the last craft beer from its longtime home at 412 N. Milwaukee Ave., a building that has operated continuously as a tavern since 1936.

Brian Grano, a Chicago native and Libertyville resident who has owned the business since 2004, said he's received many queries from regulars about the pending move.

“They say, 'Isn't it hard to give up the character of the old Mickey Finn's?' Wait until you see this. We just brought it back to life,” he said during a tour of the multimillion-dollar transformation at 345-347 N. Milwaukee Ave., and 111-115 W. Church St. It's an L-shaped conglomeration of three separate but connected buildings.

The one facing Milwaukee Avenue was built in 1917 and was known as the home of Krueger Motors. It features a soaring barrel vault ceiling and massive bow string trusses that have been uncovered and restored.

“We really wanted to play that up,” project architect Bob Bleck said. “It's more of a brewery with the emphasis on craft.”

Paint was stripped to expose the century-old brick walls, and a smooth concrete floor also contributes to the warehouse feel.

“We didn't just want to do another Irish-themed bar. There's a much better response to things that have an urban vibe,” Bleck said.

Ten-foot garage-style doors provide access to the beer garden and windows that literally open to the street to allow an airy feel. Outside, the prominent step gable brick front and art-nouveau iron canopy are a nod to the Belgian influence on architecture and brewing.

The winter put a halt to masonry work and contributed to delays that have put the project six months behind schedule, Grano said. He has had a month-to-month lease at the old site since last August.

There will be little lag time once Mickey Finn's leaves. The operators of Timothy O'Toole's Pub, which has operated in Chicago for 20 years and in Gurnee about five years, are set to move in in July after extensive renovations are made.

“It really is just renovating and getting a tired building freshened up. It's a perfect opportunity,” building owner Mark Loeb said. The character of the existing use would be maintained, he said.

Exterior improvements also are being sought. Loeb wants to extend the outdoor dining area 17 feet to the sidewalk and add a fireplace. A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Monday at the village hall, 118 W. Cook Ave.

It has been a long haul for Grano, who signed a contract to buy the buildings in 2011.

“I've always wanted to own the building I'm in and to make it my own, but I was never able to make a deal,” he said. “Nobody knew what to do with this building. But for us, it's the perfect building.”

He said he also considered Vernon Hills and Lake Zurich but noted that 70 percent of the customers are local and he didn't want to move.

Mickey Finn's will use 15,000 of the 27,000 square feet, with three other businesses occupying the rest. Everything about the restaurant/brewery will be oversized compared to the current layout. That includes a 60-foot main bar of rough-hewed white oak with room for 14 tap beers, a banquet facility with capacity for 300, a kitchen 2½ times larger, and brewing facilities that can produce 25 percent more than the current 2,000 kegs a year.

With a tentative opening April 19, the new location is expected to have an impact.

“I think you'll see a shift of foot traffic a little bit. Historically, that block hasn't had that kind of activity necessarily,” said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator. “Plus, they're adding a banquet facility and Libertyville has very few options for that so it will create a lot of opportunities.”

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  The new Mickey Finn's location in Libertyville will feature up to 14 tap beers brewed on site. Steve Lundy/
  Owner Brian Grano points to the original arched trusses and vaulted ceiling at Mickey Finn's new location, 345 Milwaukee Ave., in downtown Libertyville. Steve Lundy/
  The front facade of the new location for Mickey Finn's at 345 Milwaukee Ave., in Libertyville was meant to make a statement. Steve Lundy/
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