UNIVERSITY VILLAGE — With an onsite barbecue, a weekend oyster bar and craft beers brewed in-house, the owners of Moxee have big plans for a new restaurant and microbrewery opening at 724 W. Maxwell St. in late November.
Co-owner Rob Strom and his four partners say their restaurant will fit right in with the 'hood.
“It’s a unique strip with its own identity. It seemed like there was definitely a need to fulfill in that small community,” Strom said of the revived Maxwell Street area in University Village.
Aside from a focus on barbecue and fresh fish, food at the 120-seat restaurant will mirror that of Prairie Moon, the group’s other restaurant in Evanston.
When Prairie Moon opened 13 years ago, the restaurant was serving craft beers at a time when few other spots were, Strom said. That love of beer and homebrew eventually led the partners to experiment with their own brew techniques and kick around the idea of opening their own brewery.
Moxee’s Mad Mouse Brewing — a reference to the small size of the restaurant's brewing operations — uses a system with less than four barrels, with beer available at the restaurant only.
Prairie Moon “Minster of Beer” Phil Zelewsky will be the official brewmaster at Moxee.
The first two beers include a German Kolsch called Schnitzelbank — which got high marks during previous tastings at another of the owners' restaurants in Michigan — and Rathmandu, an American Pale Ale.
Ultimately, Strom said the restaurant would have around 20 beers on draft, with eight of those being brewed in-house.
Despite new breweries Moody Tongue and Lagunitas in Pilsen and Slapshot Brewery in Little Village, Strom said he’s not worried about an oversaturation in Chicago’s brew scene.
“What you’re looking at is neighborhoods creating their own brew pubs. Everybody helps each other and it’s a very encouraging community,” Strom said. “It’s a really interesting time to be in the restaurant and brewing industry.”