Goose Island Closing Clybourn Brewpub? Not so Fast!

Goose Island Closing Clybourn Brewpub? Not so Fast!
Goose Island Vintage Ale Glass.


There's yet another dust-up in the local craft beer scene: Reports are going around that Goose Island's brewpub at 1800 N. Clybourn Avenue is in danger of closing over yet another dispute with their landlord.

At 11:00 a.m. Thursday, this post appeared on the Goose Island Clybourn Facebook page:

"Hey everyone, we've had many questions about the status of our pub... we are still working diligently with CRM to settle in a mutually agreed upon lease."

Earlier this morning, Paul Biasco wrote at DNAInfoChicago wrote that the owner of the brewpub property, CRM Properties Group, had announced that after failing to agree to terms of its lease Goose Island would be leaving in 2014. Biasco has since updated the article, citing Kathleen Gray, a representative for Goose Island founder John Hall: "It's not a done deal. It's in the best interest of everyone to stay here. We are still working diligently with them."

Hall started the Goose Island brewpub in 1988, building it into a major craft beer brand with a second brewpub in Wrigleyville, and a packaging brewery on W. Fulton St. When he sold Goose Island to Anheuser-Busch in 2011, the brewpubs were spun off as a separate company which Hall runs.

The brewpub has been at an impasse over renewal of its previous 5-year lease in 2008. At the time, a deal was reached to reduce the rent during the economic downtown. This time, GI has been seeking to further reduce the going rate, and to possibly help secure funding to expand the brewing capacity. Further statements from CRM on a later revision of the above article suggest that negotiations have in fact shut down, and a statement from Hall suggests GI is prepared to seek out a new location.

The possibility of a closure was first breached June 14 on Chicago Real Estate Daily. So for, no one has made any official announcement.

The building housing the Clybourn brewpub was once a storehouse for brewery equipment, which last saw service as a Turtle Wax factory. At that time, Clybourn was a rundown area of closed commercial spaces that began to undergo gentrification after Goose Island opened.  Originally, the building housing included several loftlike commercial spaces, including an indoor minigolf course with holes designed by Chicago artists like Lynda Barry and Ed Paschke. In the early 90s, the building was demolished around the brewpub. This inspired the release of 1800 Demolition Ale, the first in a line of Goose's Belgian-style Vintage ales.

In my admittedly biased opinion, I think it will not benefit the area for Goose island to leave: removing the equipment and doing a build-out for new would mean the property stands empty for at least a year. And what would go in its place? Another Yuppie-centric restaurant or big box chain that might go out of business in a few years.

More than one commenter on the story had suggested that GI should look no further than the empty Smith & Hawken furniture building around the corner on Marcey St., a huge retail building with an outdoor patio section. However, it has been learned that the Binny's Beverage Depot next door had bought the building, with plans to expand the store to 50,00 square feet. This would create one of the world's largest liquor stores, including a tap room with seating.

Full disclosure: I am currently an independent contractor for the Fulton Street Brewing arm of Goose Island, pouring beer samples at retail locations on weekends.

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    Mark McDermott

    Writer, trivia maven, fan of many things. I thought to learn all there is to know about beer as a way to stay interested in learning. It is my pleasure to bring Chicago's craft beer scene to you.

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