Michelle Ficco

You might not think opening up a small-event venue in the middle of a pandemic would appeal to many entrepreneurs, but that’s exactly what Michelle Ficco hopes to do inside an Eight Corners district storefront early next year.

Ficco envisions a sleek, flexible boutique event venue that can be rented for everything from business meetings to small weddings to pop-up retail shops at 9207 Broadway Ave., home since 2009 to For the Birds, whose owner, Keith Brennan, is looking to retire.

“People are still looking for that [human] connection,” said Ficco in a phone interview last week. “Even if you have a meeting of six people who are socially spaced in a venue, they’d rather do that than Zoom for two hours. … In some ways, I think it’s more of an advantage, because this is going to be something people are going to look for.”

Before she goes ahead and purchases the property, however, Ficco will need a special use permit from the village allowing indoor assembly in the Eight Corners business district. 

The Brookfield Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a public hearing on Ficco’s application at a meeting scheduled for Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. in the council chamber at the Brookfield Village Hall, 8820 Brookfield Ave.

COVID-19 regulations mean that only 10 people will be allowed in the council chamber at any one time. Anyone wishing to provide written comment for the record can email it to Village Planner Elyse Vukelich at evukelich@brookfieldil.gov or mailing written comments to Vukelich at Brookfield Village Hall.

Any recommendation from the commission will be discussed and voted on by the village board in January.

The Liven Room is meant for people who would like to host a modest gathering, without having to rent space in a banquet hall or restaurant. It would allow parties to cater their own food and beverages – Ficco noted that there are a number of eateries within a stone’s throw of the storefront that could fit the bill for any of her clients. 

And she hopes to obtain a BYOB liquor license, though she says it’s not critical for operating the business – and can be set up to accommodate a variety of events. When built out, the space will have restrooms, a built-in buffet area and small kitchenette.

While events most likely would take place on weekends, the business will also feature an espresso bar that would be open during the week, although The Liven Room is not meant to operate as a coffee shop/café.

“The bar will blend in so it doesn’t look like a coffee bar,” said Ficco, a Niles resident whose professional background is in the commodities trading industry. 

“It’s not a café and the espresso bar is not meant to be the main aspect of the location.”

If all goes well, Ficco said she hoped to have the property purchased and built out the end of March 2021.

“I’m already working with the lender, but it’s really dependent on the [special] use, so I can’t move way too fast.”