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Liquor Store to Host Pop-Up Craft Fair

By Heather Cherone | November 29, 2013 7:44am
  Urban Folk Circuit will bring between 10 and 15 artisans to Fischman's Liquors Saturday as part of Small Business Saturday.
Liquor Store to host Year-Round Craft Fair
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JEFFERSON PARK — Holiday gift-givers searching for the perfect pair of handcrafted earrings or a homemade scented candle may be able to finish their shopping with one trip — and come home with a bonus six-pack of craft beer.

Urban Folk Circuit, which has been hosting pop-up craft markets in Chicago bars and music venues for three years, will set up shop at Fischman's Liquors in Jefferson Park from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Kelli Wefenstette, who founded the market, said she was thrilled to be able to promote the arts and give artists a chance to showcase their work close to her Portage Park home.

"We haven't really had the opportunity to have the market here, and really wanted to showcase what is happening here in Jefferson Park and Portage Park," Wefenstette said.

Between 10 and 15 artisans will hawk their wares at Fischman's on Saturday, Wefenstette said. Jewelry, recycled totes, crochet wear, paper goods and candles will all be for sale.

Admission is free, and shoppers can pop some tags accompanied by live acoustic music. Fischman's will offer drink specials as well as food from their new Wagyu Wagon food truck.

Welcoming Urban Folk Circuit to their bar and liquor store isn't out of the ordinary for Gus Karamaniolas, who has worked at Fischman's for the last 18 years, and owned it with his wife, Shanna, for the last five.

"Anything we can do to give back to the community, that's what we do," Karamaniolas said, adding that the bar and liquor store has hosted everything from a wedding to a baby shower, as well as festivals and fundraisers.

Wefenstette said she has been looking for a place to hold the Urban Folk Circuit on the Far Northwest Side for some time, and connected with Karamaniolas when her market participated in Jeff Fest this summer.

"We really hope to build a following for our artists in Jefferson Park," Wefenstette said. Karamaniolas "and I share a lot of the same ideas about revitalizing Jefferson Park."

Karamaniolas has been working to turn Fischman's into the beating heart of a reinvigorated Jefferson Park with an emphasis on craft beers, fine wine and food trucks.

"Our goal is to put Jefferson Park on the map," Karamaniolas said, joking that he and his wife sometimes refer to themselves as "Jefferson Park pioneers."

Originally, Karamaniolas planned to expand the bar and liquor store to include a full restaurant. But delays and complications — many having to do with concerns from city officials — prompted him to rethink his plans and invest in a food truck of his own.

"We decided to change course," Karamaniolas said, agreeing that the obstacles from the city turned out to be a blessing in disguise. "The cost to start a food truck is a fraction of a full restaurant."

Karamaniolas said he is revising his plans for the 1,500-square-foot room that adjoins the bar and liquor store to have a prep kitchen to allow him to host special events but also to create a space with the feel of a lounge and coffee bar, complete with gourmet java and outlets galore.

The final inspection of the store's Wagyu Wagon food truck is set for next week, Karamaniolas said. Beef and burger lovers will be able to find it at Fischman's Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and at various locations around the city for lunch, he added.

"If we can take an old-man bar that has been here for 80 years and change it around, we can change the entire neighborhood," Karamaniolas said. "Of course it is a gamble, but our passion and goal is to improve Jefferson Park."

Urban Folk Circuit is scheduled to hold another market at Fischman's Liquors from noon to 5 p.m. Dec. 15, and future dates are planned through the spring, Wefenstette said.