EVANSTON — Food, beer and good times are just around the corner at Peckish Pig, a brewpub opening soon on Howard Street, its owners said.
So far, since construction began early last year, they've transformed a rundown building at 623 W. Howard St., a half a block away from Rogers Park and Chicago's northern border, into the soon-to-be newest member of Chicago's burgeoning brew scene.
"A lot of people who live around this area really don't have anywhere to go," said owner Debbie Evans, who with husband Jamie had at one time ran Evanston's Celtic Knot and, early last year, opened Towbar in Jarvis Square. "I really hope this would be a part of the whole turning point of Howard Street."
While sitting at the bar that was built by her son, Janek, and father, Tony "Towbar" Mussell, Debbie Evans said the brewpub would "be a place with fantastic food, drink, people, family, friends — all together in one spot."
"And great beer," her husband added.
An opening date has yet to be set, said the Evanses' daughter and future bar manager, India Mussell-McKay, but they hope to start pouring beers within the next month or so.
Brewmaster Tom Fogarty, a former home-brewer, quit his job in the "print on paper" publishing industry to make beer for the Peckish Pig.
He's waiting on a few more parts from the manufacturer before he'll start brewing in his 3-1/2 barrel system, capable of putting out 108 gallons every 10 days or so.
"I like to brew in a classic style," he said, dressed in Carhartt overalls over a blue sweatshirt. "We're not looking to be the next hoppiest beer on the market. We want beers that are easy drinking."
The bar will be rigged up with 12 taps, serving eight beers from other Chicago breweries and four of its own, including a rotation of English brown ale, stout, American IPA and other brews.
Fogarty said other area brewers have helped him order and set up his equipment, with a common goal to grow and share the love of Chicago's craft beer.
"Everybody is so generous with their time and information," he said. "Our success is their success."
As for food, Debbie Evans plans to serve smoked meat eventually. There will be a Peckish Pig Burger, salads and a specialty dish of deep-fried ham hocks with a salted-caramel sauce.
But not everything will be based on pork. There will be vegetarian and vegan food, fish and a Sunday roast dinner, inspired by the weekly family ritual from back home in Liverpool, England.
"The food is not an afterthought here," said Evans' husband, Jamie.
When open, the Peckish Pig crew also hopes that they'll be a part of the rejuvenation of Howard Street.
In fact, the city owns their building, and they're under a lease-to-own contract, similar to next door cocktail lounge Ward 8, which has seen success since it opened in December 2012.
There also has been talk of leasing a third Evanston-owned building to a theater group down the street.
In the end, however, Fogarty said he just wants to brew "great beer for good people and bad."
"Hopefully not too many of the bad," added Debbie Evans.