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Fischman's Liquors To Close In July Because Of Rent Dispute, Owner Says

By Heather Cherone | May 3, 2016 10:47am | Updated on May 4, 2016 10:07am
 The half-bar, half-liquor store was a hub of the Jefferson Park neighborhood.
The half-bar, half-liquor store was a hub of the Jefferson Park neighborhood.
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JEFFERSON PARK — Fischman's Liquors, where generations of Jefferson Park drinkers tossed back a shot and a beer, will close in July as a result of a rent dispute, the owner said.

Gus and Shanna Karamaniolas, who transformed the bar and liquor store into a community hub and craft beer emporium during the eight years they owned the neighborhood institution, said they struggled with the decision to close the business at 4780 N. Milwaukee Ave.

"The dream we had for this place, what we wanted to do, what we wanted it to be ... that dream has died," Gus Karamaniolas said, adding that it will close July 17, just a few months after celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The closure of Fischman's, which hosted dozens of fundraisers and other community events — including a winter farmer's market — would leave a huge hole in the center of the Jefferson Park Business District and complicate efforts led by Ald. John Arena (45th) to revitalize the area.

"It definitely is a loss," said Tricia Lombardo, the executive director of the Jefferson Park Chamber of Commerce. "They have been so generous to the community."

The closure of Fischman's will also force the Chicago Fringe Fest to find a new home. The celebration of avant garde performance art plans to return to Jefferson Park for a fourth year Sept. 1-11.

In addition, Fischman's annual Kegs for Kidneys event, which had been set for June 3, will not take place. The fundraiser, which was created to honor the Karamaniolases' niece, Izzy, raised more than $25,000 for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois since 2012.

The closure stems from a dispute between the the husband-and-wife owners of the bar and the owner of the building, Gus Karamaniolas' uncle, which was first reported by Time Out Chicago.

Gus Karamaniolas' father bought the bar and liquor store in 1996, when it was known as a hangout for older Jefferson Park residents looking for a shot and a beer.

"Internal family struggles" thwarted Gus and Shanna Karamaniolas' efforts to open a restaurant and beer garden in the space next to the the bar, they said in a statement.

"Constant battles with lawyers, lawsuits, family and even taking on expensive repairs to the building to keep the business open, ultimately led to the decision to close," Karamaniolas said. "Closing a business because it is failing is one thing. Closing a business that has grown into an established success, due to an ongoing battle with family, makes this that much harder."

Karamaniolas left open the possibility that he and his wife would open a new business at a new location.

Lombardo said the chamber was working with the alderman's office to find a new home for the community institution.

"We really want to keep Fischman's in Jefferson Park," Lombardo said.

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