Less than six months after a deal to bring a brewpub to downtown Riverside fell through, the prospect of sitting down with a locally brewed craft beer is back on the radar in the village.
On Sept. 15, the Riverside Village Board voted 5-0 to waive building permit and other fees totaling up to $49,600 to pave the way for Safehouse Brewing LLC to bring a Prohibition era-themed brew pub and restaurant to town.
Safehouse Brewing LLC, a corporation formed 10 months ago by Matt Thomson, plans on doing a $1 million renovation of the building at 363-69 E. Burlington St., near Harlem Avenue, to house the combination craft brewery and pub/restaurant that will be able to seat about 150 people.
The building is a long-underutilized, mixed-use structure currently without any tenants. It was purchased in November 2014 by Giuseppe Zappani, who restored the Arcade Building in downtown Riverside. Thomson is Zappani’s son-in-law.
Safehouse is the third business to take advantage of incentives offered by the village of Riverside to promote economic development. The two others, La Barra and Sawmilly, are under construction in downtown Riverside and expect to be open later this fall.
The village board, in addition to waiving building, plumbing and electrical permit fees totaling $24,500, also agreed to waive plan review fees along with health inspection fees, business license fees, liquor license fees and live entertainment license fees for the first three years of the business’ operation.
It’ll take some time to complete the major interior renovation of the Safehouse space. Documents indicate that Thomson hopes to open Safehouse by mid-2017 at the earliest. The fee waiver resolution sets Nov. 1, 2017 as the deadline for occupancy before the waived fees would have to be reimbursed.
The venture is still obtaining funding, Thomson told village trustees during the board’s discussion of the fee waivers on Sept. 15. It does have at least one private investor, whose identity was not revealed.
According to a business plan submitted to village officials by Thomson, Safehouse Brewing would be a casual, family-friendly restaurant/brew pub that would employ about 20 people.
The entire operation would comprise the first floor of the multi-storefront building, with the 15-barrel system brewery located on the east end with windows overseeing the bar area. Beer will not be kegged, according to Thomson, but will be poured from the brewery’s tanks.
The kitchen would be located in the rear portion of the building and an outdoor dining area facing the railroad tracks is also part of the plan.
Additional bar space on the west side of the building could be used for private events. Plans call for a brick pizza oven in the middle of the building. The menu at Safehouse will include “an American menu with an Italian twist” and feature items like burgers, sandwiches, flatbreads, pizza and appetizers.
Lots of exposed brick will lend a somewhat industrial air to the interior, whose décor emphasizes 1920s Prohibition-era Chicago.