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O'Brien's Pub Closes, Open Outcry Brewing Co. To Replace Local Tavern

By Howard Ludwig | November 1, 2016 10:26am
 John Brand of Morgan Park shut down O'Brien's Pub in Morgan Park Monday night and will soon transform the property at 10934 S. Western Ave. into Open Outcry Brewing Co. The brewpub will feature craft beer and a wood-fired oven with Neapolitan pizza, salads, paninis and more.
Open Outcry Brewing Co.
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MORGAN PARK — John Brand pulled the plug Monday night on O'Brien's Pub in Morgan Park.

The owner closed the bar at 10934 S. Western Ave. just ahead of construction of Open Outcry Brewing Co.'s new brewpub, which will replace the tavern and feature the Morgan Park resident's handcrafted beer.

A wood-fired oven will also be prominently displayed and used to make Neapolitan pizzas and more. Open Outcry will have a contemporary yet rustic interior with tables made from reclaimed wood and vintage Edison light bulbs throughout, Brand said.

"This is my story. This is who I am," said Brand, who walked away from his career in the futures market March 9 to buy O'Brien's Pub.

The plans for the bar at Open Outcry Brewing Co. in Morgan Park show how patrons will be able to peer through a glass wall to see the brewing equipment. The brewery will be on the south end of the building at 10934 S. Western Ave. [Supplied Illustration]

O'Brien's Pub will re-open briefly Nov. 12 for Tap into BAPA, a bar crawl fundraiser for the Beverly Area Planning Association. The neighborhood tavern is one of seven Western Avenue bars on the tour.

After the event, construction will begin to quadruple the size of O'Brien's Pub, remaking the modest bar into a 4,000-square-foot restaurant and brewery that will encompass storefronts to the north and south.

Open Outcry will have seating for 120 people with roughly 15 parking spaces behind the building. Street parking is also available in front, Brand said.

The storefront for Open Outcry Brewing Co. in Morgan Park will feature a glass garage door that will roll up to allow open-air dining when the weather cooperates, said John Brand, owner of the tavern now known as O'Brien's Pub. [DNAinfo/Supplied Illustration]

The new brewpub will face Western Avenue with large glass windows, including a glass garage door that will open when the weather cooperates. A second glass garage door will also be placed in the rear of the restaurant.

"I want to bring the outside in and vice versa," Brand said Monday.

The south portion of Open Outcry will be dedicated to beermaking, and more glass windows will allow patrons to peer in on the progress. In fact, the bar itself will face the beer production room.

Storage tanks for craft beer will be featured prominently at Open Outcry Brewing Co. in Morgan Park. These tanks once held beer for nearby Horse Thief Hollow in Beverly. [DNAinfo/Supplied Illustration]

Six stainless steel holding tanks — previously used and outgrown by nearby Horse Thief Hollow in Beverly — will be featured behind the bar. Meanwhile, the kitchen will be on the north end of the building.

The wood-fired oven will be visible from the dining area. Besides the Italian-style pizzas, the oven will also be used to make giant Bavarian soft pretzels and more. The menu is not yet finalized, but Brand said it will likely include several salads along with paninis, burgers and calzones.

"I want people to be able to see the flames and smell the food," said Brand, who grew up in southwest suburban Frankfort.

Food wasn't originally part of the plan for Brand, a home brewer turned entrepreneur. But he said neighborhood residents quickly convinced him otherwise as his early conversations about the brewery all led back to how food would be incorporated into the new spot.

As a result, Brand now envisions Open Outcry as a place where neighborhood residents can try his unique beers and also enjoy some fresh pub grub. He pictures parents pushing strollers into the restaurant and sitting beside folks of all different backgrounds.

"This street needs to evolve," said Brand, who believes O'Brien's Pub would have struggled in its present form.

Margot Burke Holland, executive director of the Beverly Area Planning Association, agreed. She pointed to Horse Thief Hollow, Barney Callaghan's and Cork & Kerry as examples of Beverly bars that have invested heavily in their facilities and seen dividends.

"There is kind of an evolution and certainly a demand for a gastro-brewpub on Western Avenue," Holland said Tuesday.

Still, Brand is considering serving mass-produced domestic beers alongside his craft options in Morgan Park. Such a drink menu is largely frowned upon by those in the niche beer world, but Brand said he's heard this request too often from potential customers.

"I don't want to be pretentious about beer," said Brand, who still hopes to introduce customers to his homemade varieties along with serving more widely-known beers.

Brand said construction is already a bit behind schedule, but he's hopeful Open Outcry could be ready for the South Side Irish St. Patrick's Day Parade in March.

Regardless of the opening date, Brand believes he'll have the support of the neighborhood as residents have already been visiting O'Brien's Pub since he took over to show their enthusiasm for Open Outcry.

"I feel like the neighborhood has kind of rallied behind me a bit," Brand said. "Business has been good. And I think the main reason is people are invested in what this project is about and want to support it."

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