ROGERS PARK — Rogers Parkers soon will get the chance to sip beer brewed in their neighborhood with Empirical Brewery's upcoming takeover of the former Act One Pub.
Bill Hurley, owner of the Ravenswood brewery, told DNAinfo he planned to sign a lease on the space inside the Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave., Monday which would include the former restaurant and bar as well as an adjacent storefront where he will set up a five-barrel beer production system.
The neighborhood "is begging for something to go into that area," Hurley said. "Rogers Park does not have a brewery. It's really underserved in terms of food as well, so doing a brewpub in that area I think makes a lot of sense."
Act One Pub and Mayne Stage, both developed by Col. Jennifer Pritzker's Tawani Enterprises, switched gears last year when Act One closed, and the entertainment venue traded live music and theater for private rental use.
By late spring, Hurley said he expects to be serving food and drinks at the location.
Hurley said he wanted a spot that would require few renovations, something Act One offered. Only minor aesthetic changes are being made to transform the taproom.
At first the brewery will serve more as a traditional restaurant and bar with a small retail bottle shop while its actual brewing component is set up next door in what is now a vacant storefront.
Once that is complete, Empirical will serve fresh-made Rogers Park specialty beers to be shared between both locations, Hurley said.
A Far North Sider residing in Andersonville, Hurley said the find on Morse Avenue was "perfect" for an expansion he's wanted to do for about six months.
He earlier lived in Edgewater and attended Northwestern University in Evanston and had come to like the area.
"I think what they were looking for for a business going into that space was somebody that's already proven that they can have a positive impact on a neighborhood and give back to the local community," Hurley said. "We've definitely built our name around doing just that."
For those familiar with Empirical's original brewing area, one difference will be a lack of protective feral cats — the brewery's feline line of defense between pesky rodents and precious beer.
The newer, more "air-tight" building makes the feral Cats at Work program is less needed, Hurley said.
"If I could possibly think of a way to get the feral cat program adopted to fit that building, I would," he said.