ROGERS PARK — The owners behind Rogers Park Social say they're eyeing the now vacant storefront next door to their Glenwood Avenue tavern — the former site of Armilla — where they hope to open an upscale "one-stop dinner party" shop called Rogers Park Provisions, according to owner Erik Archambeault.
"We don't carry your Absoluts or your Bacardis, all those mainstream spirits you see every day, so we try to be a compliment to other experiences in the neighborhood," he said. "The concept that we're looking for for Rogers Park Provisions isn't a liquor store; we're looking for a one-stop place for a dinner party."
But first they must "convince" Ald. Joe Moore (49th) and the city to make way for zoning changes, Moore said in an email to residents.
Linze Rice says the plans don't call for a simple liquor store:
Archambeault and partner William Meek, who have lived in Rogers Park for nearly a decade, took over the site of Side Car and transformed it into Rogers Park Social in May 2014. They are looking to expand into the neighboring storefront at 6928 N. Glenwood with Rogers Park Provisions, a shop selling gifts, cheese and Charcuterie, craft beers and spirits, breads and higher-end wines, Moore said.
Archambeault said both he and Meek wanted to offer Rogers Park residents a culturally and globally diverse experience where they could pick up a host gift, unique spirit and handmade thank-you cards sourced by local artists all in one destination — inspired in part by the couple's travels through Europe.
Archambeault's father, a woodworker, will also be among the artists showing off handcrafted pieces such as cheese boards and bowls.
"We've both lived in Europe in the past and just loved that kind of walking, not having to leave the neighborhood, just stay where you live kind of thing," he said. "So we've always been attracted to that area."
The couple feels right at home in the Glenwood Avenue corridor near Morse, he said, and hopes to create an environment in Rogers Park Provisions that reflects both their personal tastes and experiences (including some furniture formally used in their home) and mirrors the diversity in the neighborhood.
But before the shop can open and sell alcohol, it must first pass through the city's Zoning Board of Appeals to gain a special-use permit because the area of Glenwood between Pratt and Lunt falls under a moratorium on new packaged goods licenses — meaning the area is zoned to restrict the same type of license required by grocery stores to sell pre-packaged liquor.
The duo must first persuade Moore to introduce an ordinance that would lift the restriction on new licenses, a rule change that would have to remain in effect for at least one year, Moore said.
Once the moratorium is lifted, Meek and Archambeault can apply for the license.
The duo entered into the lease on the storefront on July 1 and say they might well open without the license, if need be, in order to open the shop's doors and become acquainted with customers.
Armilla, the former gift shop at 6928 N. Glenwood, closed earlier this year due to "health issues involving one of the shop owners," Moore said.
Moore said he will ultimately decide whether or not to back a zoning change after holding a community meeting at the proposed shop location at 7 p.m. Monday.
Archambeault said he hopes that with continued feedback, he and Meek will eventually obtain the license and be able to open the dinner party storefront.
In the meantime, he says he's still looking to bring on more local artists interested in selling their wares in his shop. Artists can get in touch with Archambeault at email@example.com.
"We're going to stay as local as possible," he said. "We just like to create comfortable spaces for [customers] to feel at home. I mean, if we're going to be there 80 hours a week, it may as well be our home."
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