RAVENSWOOD — If residents were already predisposed to approve Fountainhead owners' pitch for an adjacent market — requiring the lifting of a liquor license moratorium — they were even more in favor of the project after hearing specifics Monday night at a meeting of West Ravenswood Neighbors.
Aaron Zacharias and Darby Putman — members of Fountainhead's ownership group — and executive chef Cleetus Friedman described a one-of-a-kind shop that would, in Friedman's words, "connect you to everything we do at Fountainhead, but in your living room."
Fountainhead Market is being proposed for 1966 W. Montrose Ave., formerly home to Alibi Fine Art gallery, with Fountainhead gastropub immediately next door at 1970 W. Montrose Ave. Owners intend to apply for a packaged goods liquor license — meaning alcohol is sold in bottles or cans to be consumed off-premises — which would require the lifting of a packaged goods moratorium in place on Montrose between Damen and Ravenswood avenues.
"We don't want to be a liquor store," Zacharias told the 30 neighbors who turned out for the meeting.
The market, the owners explained, is intended as an extension of Fountainhead — a place to purchase the wares the restaurant sources and makes.
"Where can I get this?" is a frequent question from Fountainhead patrons, Friedman said. "Typically the answer has been, 'Nowhere. It's only at Fountainhead.' "
For those wondering whether Fountainhead Market will be the second coming of Friedman's previous venture, City Provisions, the answer is "no."
"It will be very specific artisanal items" with ties to Fountainhead, said Friedman.
He cited private-label spirits, bottles and/or cans of his various beer collaborations, the restaurant's sauces and prepackaged food from Fountainhead as examples of what customers can expect.
"Cleetus does some amazing things," said Putman. "The products he could source or create would be pretty great."
Residents liked what they heard.
"I'm 100 percent in favor of it," said Courtney Conway, who estimated her back door was five feet from the proposed market.
"They're great neighbors, they've got great product, they're great people," she said.
Erin Kupsco, one of West Ravenswood Neighbors organizers, said Fountainhead had been nothing but good for the neighborhood.
"It's the local place to go. There's such excitement around the Fountainhead brand," she said, adding that when she shared initial news of the market with members of her homeowners association, the response was "When can they open?"
Jim Poole, chief of staff for Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), described the process as moving forward.
An ordinance to lift the moratorium will be introduced at the July City Council meeting, voted on at the next meeting (likely September, assuming an August recess) and then Fountainhead's owners can complete their liquor license application.
Once lifted, the moratorium would be put back in place after a year, and in the interim, Poole said, "It's not a free for all."
If all goes smoothly with the license application, Zacharias predicts Fountainhead Market will be up and running by late fall.
"We'd love to be open in time for the whole holiday push," he said.
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