Why Home Brew Shop in St. Charles is renovating
It's quite noticeable that some work is being done on the building at the southwest corner of Main and Third streets in downtown St. Charles.
Jessica Coy hopes that same type of eye-catching unfolds after the building work is complete and the Home Brew Shop building introduces a new winery to the city.
As manager of Home Brew Shop, Coy is anxious to see the construction on the building, which has been part of downtown St. Charles since the very early 1900s, completed as soon as possible.
The work is designed to improve the facade and expand Home Brew Shop to include a winery in the future.
The problem at the moment is that the construction, like any other building project, has revealed a few surprises that will take more time to deal with than originally expected, Coy said.
"As you go along, you find things that will take more time and things that will allow you to cut time," Coy added. "We haven't really set a timetable, and the contractor we are working with said maybe six to 12 months."
In the meantime, Home Brew Shop, which provides the equipment and ingredients for customers to make their own beer and wine, is temporarily conducting business at 9 S. Third St., across the street from its Main Street location and behind the Rocket Fizz candy shop. It has conducted business out of the Main Street location since 2001.
"It is less than a quarter of the space we had before, so we are really jam-packed," Coy said of her temporary home.
For the time being, Home Brew Shop can't conduct beer- and winemaking classes because of the lack of space. But most other services and functions are normal.
"We've slowly been working on projects here and there, and with all that has gone on the past few months, we decided we might as well jump right into the deep end and go for it," Coy said of the decision to expand and open a winery.
It means they have to wait on acquiring a liquor license, as the shop will be selling what it makes for the first time.
As much as anything, those interested in making a home brew should know that the shop is still in business at a temporary location while the building has its makeover.
"Home Brew Shop is alive and well," said St. Charles city administrator Mark Koenen. "The work being done will keep that building in good shape hopefully until the next century."
A dream comes true:
It was an emotional night for Michael Lynch of South Elgin and his family when the Dream Foundation last month honored the terminally ill 68-year-old Vietnam veteran with a "Celebration of Life" event at the Lincoln Inn in Batavia.
Lynch, who has a life expectancy of less than three months, currently receives treatment at the VA Heinz Hospital in Maryland. He had not seen family and friends in the Fox Valley area for many years.
Organizers said it was the first time in 10 years the entire family and so many friends from this area had been able to gather on Michael's behalf.
Part of the ceremony held last month, which really was all about honoring his wish to be with family again, included Lynch receiving a Vietnam lapel pin and a proclamation of the 50th anniversary of the war. A special Honor Guard presentation for Lynch also took place.
Lynch served in the field in Vietnam as a lance corporal in the First Marine division. He served two tours of duty in the war.
A special field:
Plenty of longtime St. Charles residents are saying how hard it is to drive by Thompson Middle School and see Reid Field, the former high school football field, being torn up to make way for the Thompson expansion project.
It's at least a bit ironic that the bulldozing started not long after former St. Charles High School football coach Leo Vitali passed away. Reid Field was the site of his memorable career, particularly when his son Mark was the quarterback in the early 1970s.
Reid Field was the site of one of the first football games I covered in this area in 1979 when Geneva played at St. Charles. The Saints had an outstanding quarterback named Randy Wright, and Geneva was throwing a sophomore, Pete Temple, into the varsity fray for the first time because quarterback Dave Pease was injured.
I had not covered a high school game in a long time, having come straight from covering college football while in school. I was beyond impressed. Little did I know I was seeing two of the better quarterbacks in the area at that time.
Mostly, I will never forget being in the press box at Reid Field to watch it unfold.
Neighbors to the north:
There's something about Wisconsin that has certainly attracted many in the Tri-Cities area over the years. So many residents here either originally lived in that state or went to college there, it seems.
But from a social calendar standpoint, it is almost always pleasing to shoot up north and spend a little time.
I had a few trips to those parts this summer -- one for a wedding in Milwaukee, one for a golf trip to Lake Geneva, which included a good nightcap with a Cubs-Brewers game, and one to just walk the trails around Lake Geneva with our dog.
They all confirmed once again that these are nice one-tank-of-gas trips to interesting spots on the Illinois-Wisconsin border or in the Milwaukee area along Lake Michigan.
Those of us in the Chicago area have called Milwaukee a mini-Chicago for some time, and that may be. It's a nice change of pace, and not near as hectic as Chicago can be.
Let's put it this way. As long as we're in the Midwest, it's kind of nice to have cities like Chicago and Milwaukee nearby.
Of course, that's as long as the Brewers don't somehow keep the Cubs from winning the Central Division this year and reaching the playoffs.