April 7 was National Beer Day throughout the country, and the Riverside Village Board marked the occasion by shipping an amendment to the zoning code allowing microbreweries in Riverside’s business districts to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The commission will consider amending the zoning code at a public hearing that’s been called for April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Riverside Township Hall, 27 Riverside Road.
At the same hearing, the commission will consider a special use application that’s been submitted by Ancient Owl Brewing, which hopes to open a microbrewery and tap room on East Quincy Street.
If all goes as expected, the village board will be able to vote on the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendations for both the zoning code amendment and Ancient Owl’s special use permit on May 5.
“The key for us is to show that Riverside is welcoming to that business model,” said Village President Ben Sells, who crafted much of the language amending both the zoning code and liquor code that will be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission later this month.
Meanwhile, at the April 7 meeting of the village’s board of trustees, Ancient Owl Brewing owner Marcin Andruszkiewicz gave the village board an overview of what the proposed microbrewery and tap room would look like.
Andruszkiewicz has made an offer on the building at 43 E. Quincy St., which formerly housed the Riverside American Legion and is owned by Riverside resident Thomas Barr. If the two sides can agree to a purchase price, Andruszkiewicz plans to remodel the building by creating a 1,500-square-foot brewing plant in the rear garage area and a roughly 3,200-square-foot open tap room in the front, separated by a narrow barrel storage area.
“There’s still a lot left that needs to be accomplished,” Andruszkiewicz said in a separate phone interview. “And we’re still waiting on receiving the actual loan, which the purchase is contingent on, so there are still a lot of moving parts.”
Andruszkiewicz said the brewery would specialize in making Belgian and American style brews. According to the proposed code language, at least 50 percent of the beer sold in the tap room would have to be made onsite. The tap room would also sell other American craft beers and wine. Hard liquor sales would be prohibited by the code.
Ancient Owl does not plan on offering food for sale on the premises, but Andruszkiewicz said food from outside restaurants could be brought in or delivered. The microbrewery tap room would close at 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, at 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
The microbrewery has applied for a special use permit for the business, because the property at 43 E. Quincy St. is within the B-2 Mixed Use Transitional zoning designation. Residential properties are located immediately east and south of the proposed brewery.
According to the draft code language to be considered by the Planning and Zoning Commission on April 27, microbreweries will be permitted by right in the downtown B-2 retail core district and the B-1 commercial districts along Harlem Avenue and East Burlington Street immediately west of Harlem Avenue.
The village board is poised to create a new liquor license classification for microbreweries, which allows for the onsite production of beer. In addition to selling to customers of the microbrewery’s tap room, the new classification would allow for the retail sale of beer in sealed containers of any size, including half-barrels, for offsite consumption.