Cesar Gonzalez explains brewpub plans alongside his lawyer, Richard Velasquez, and McKinley Park Development Council founding board member Dayna Calderon at the Wednesday, May 16, council meeting.

Pl-zeň Owners Pitch Brewpub for 34th and Ashland

Published May 17, 2018

Cesar Gonzalez, owner and proprietor of the popular Pl-zeň gastropub on 18th Street in the Pilsen neighborhood, pitched his plan for a neighborhood brewpub at 34th Street and Ashland Avenue during the Wednesday, May 16, meeting of the McKinley Park Development Council. If the development goes through, Gonzalez said he plans to operate a bar and restaurant with brewing capabilities on the first floor of 3401 S. Ashland Ave., and live with his family in one of the rehabbed residences above it.

The plan requires changing the zoning on this property from its current residential-only designation to C1-2 commercial zoning that would allow a first floor business with brewing capabilities. Liliana Escarpita of the 12th Ward office said that the decision on the zoning change needs to happen soon, given city zoning committee meeting schedules and construction loan deadlines tied to the project. Anyone with feedback on the proposed zoning change should quickly contact the 12th Ward office at ward12@cityofchicago.org or (773) 523-8250.

3401 S Ashland site photo 201805 forwebThe property at 3401 S. Ashland Ave. requires a gut rehab and a zoning change before it can operate as a brewpub.The concept for the restaurant will center around Mexican seafood, Gonzalez said, with an ambiance, service levels and culinary direction similar to that of the Pl-zeň restaurant. Craft beverages will be a focus, and price levels will be similar to Pl-zeň, with entrees ranging from the teens to upper twenty dollars in cost.

The project requires a complete gut renovation of the entire structure, which is seriously dilapidated, said lawyer Richard Velasquez, who attended the council meeting alongside Gonzalez. Rehabilitation financing comes through a 203(k) loan, part of a Federal Housing Administration program to encourage property repair. Once complete, the building will house the first-floor business, two two-bedroom apartments on the second floor and one three-bedroom apartment on the top floor.

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The capital investment in the project is significant, Gonzalez said, with an estimated cost of up to $300,000 for the brewpub installation, and another $250,000 to $300,000 to overhaul the building and residential units. He said that their schedules outlined restoring the residences first, then the brewpub for a targeted opening in late 2019.

A parking pad will accommodate three cars for residential tenants, Gonzalez said, with ample street parking available nearby for brewpub customers. He said he was investigating acquisition of the vacant lot next to the property as a potential location for additional parking.

3401 S Ashland interior conception 201805 forwebA preliminary architect's conception shows a potential interior layout of the first floor space.The new business will create a demand for 14 new employees, Gonzalez said, all anticipated to be local residents, likely discovered through word of mouth. 

Gonzalez said the building was ideal for his size and location requirements, and he cited the future potential of the McKinley Park neighborhood as an attractive element. "Development is coming this way," he said.  

The next McKinley Park Development Council meeting is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 20, at Marz Community Brewing Co.

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