Convenience store chain proposes nanobrewery in St. Charles
Operators of a St. Charles restaurant and liquor store are seeking approval to open a small brewery under the same roof.
93 Octane Brewery, which would be considered a nanobrewery because of its size, is a new concept for The Pride Stores Inc., a suburban gas station convenience store chain, marketing manager Chris Peckat said. Slated for a vacant storefront at 1825 Lincoln Hwy., the business would join two other Pride-owned establishments in the building: The Pride Beer and Wine plus Spirits, and Urban Counter, a fast-casual restaurant serving American fare.
Hoping to provide cross access between all three units, the company is applying for a special sitewide liquor license that would allow alcohol to be consumed on site or carried out in sealed containers. That way, Peckat said, customers could buy a beer at 93 Octane Brewery, drink it while eating a meal from Urban Counter, and then shop at the liquor store.
"I've always loved craft beer," said Peckat, who spearheaded the nanobrewery concept. "Now we have an opportunity to make and brew beer for our customers."
The beer brewed at 93 Octane would be packaged in cans, kegs and possibly growlers, he said. The company would likely work through a distributor to sell the product at other Pride establishments.
The nanobrewery is expected to be up and running by the end of the summer, Peckat said.
The Pride Stores, the retail division of the family-owned Parent Petroleum, has 12 convenience stores in the Chicago area, some of which sell food and alcohol inside. The St. Charles site is unique in that the restaurant and liquor store are in a separate structure adjacent to the gas station, Peckat said.
The company initially intended to convert the third tenant space into an Italian market when the building was constructed about two years ago, he said, but those plans never came to fruition.
"So we altered it to this," Peckat said. "We've always supported local craft everything. We want to have the chance to actually create a brewery in St. Charles and supply our locations with a great beer and a great product."
St. Charles aldermen, who expressed their preliminary support for the project last month, are expected to consider granting Pride the sitewide liquor license at an upcoming meeting, Police Chief James Keegan said. The license also requires state and federal approval.
The nanobrewery will have a small tap room with about 18 seats toward the front of the building, according to the business plan. Roughly 60 percent of the space will be used for equipment and brewing operations, and each batch can be overseen by one person.
Pride is working with a Michigan-based brewing company to come up with beer recipes, which could include a New England pale ale, a stout and seasonal specialties, Peckat said. 93 Octane could also offer a barrel aging program, brewery tours and merchandise such as pint glasses or shirts.