Done deal: Rosemont board clears way for Hofbräuhaus to become new pizza bar
Rosemont officials and a pair of family restaurateurs took the first step Monday to converting most of the former Hofbräuhaus Chicago into a new pizzeria and craft beer bar.
The village board formally canceled Joe and Mike Matuschka's lease for the cavernous 20,000-square-foot German beer hall in Parkway Bank Park, while inking a $2.165 million sale of 13,400 square feet of the building and the land that sits under it to the father and son businessmen.
Following the end of Hofbräuhaus' eight-year run in the village entertainment district Jan. 31, the Matuschkas announced plans for Crust, which will feature a menu of a dozen Neapolitan American-inspired individual pizzas and a rotating beer list of craft brews made in-house.
They had been talking in recent months with Mayor Brad Stephens about reducing the size of their restaurant footprint -- and changing the type of restaurant altogether -- to help improve their bottom line.
"It's been challenging trying to serve this concept. It's a very, very expensive product to put out," Mike Matuschka told the Daily Herald Feb. 4. "People just aren't eating heavy German fare like they used to. I think we could be much more profitable. The pandemic is the straw that broke the camel's back."
Stephens on Monday suggested the demise of Hofbräuhaus had less to do with its Bavarian Oktoberfest theme than the sheer size of the venue.
"I don't know about that. I think (Matuschka) believes that," Stephens said of a fading German restaurant concept. "It's tough with a 20,000-square-foot facility and the costs associated with it."
"He and I acknowledged the revenues are dropping off and with COVID, it's not that big of a play anymore," Stephens added. "Some are obviously gonna be sad to see it go. But it's too big of a space."
Plans call for the village to subdivide the building by installing a structural stud wall and drywall, giving the Matuschkas the southern portion, and leaving the northern part for a user or users still to be announced. The second venue would also be in the food and entertainment realm, Stephens said.
The village will move sewer, water and other utilities to service the new pizza and beer bar, and award it "pizzeria-themed" exclusivity in the entertainment district. That would prevent a similar restaurant from opening in the village-run district, but not forbid any of the existing eateries from serving pizza.
Stephens compared Crust to the Parlor Pizza Bar, a popular hangout in Chicago's West Loop, River North and Wicker Park neighborhoods.
While interior renovations at the old Hofbräuhaus have already begun, the Matuschkas must still come before the village board for special use zoning and signage approvals. A closing on the property sale is scheduled for March 15.
While a similar sale and redevelopment agreement for the neighboring, still-unnamed venue is still to come, Stephens said both portions of the building should be open and operating by this summer.