CHICAGO — Vice District Brewing has closed its South Loop taproom while facing a possible eviction, an abrupt closure for a brewery co-owned by an Illinois state representative.
The brewery, one of the few on the South Side and perhaps the city’s first black-owned craft brewery, had to close the taproom at 1454 S. Michigan Ave. on Tuesday. Owners aren’t sure when, or if, it will re-open.
Photos show the front door has a neon green “no trespassing” sign from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office saying “all persons have been evicted from these premises.”
Court records show the brewery is facing eviction from the spot, with the plaintiffs demanding back rent and to repossess the property and claiming damages of more than $114,000.
The brewery is co-owned Curtis Tarver II, who was elected state representative last fall in the 25th District, which covers much of the South Side’s lakefront neighborhoods.
Brewery co-owner Quintin Cole said Vice has struggled to make payments on the lease recently. It opened another facility in suburban Homewood, but construction there ran 20 months behind schedule; that, combined with equipment failures and the cost of contract brewing during construction, “ate up a lot of capital that we didn’t have budgeted,” he said.
But Vice’s owners are currently trying to negotiate with their landlord so they can re-open the taproom and continue operating in the South Loop.
“We’re in an unfortunate position right now, but the goal is to be able to get back into the Michigan location so that we can continue operations,” Cole said. “We don’t want to go away. We’re not throwing in the towel. We do have some odds stacked against us, but we do plan to come back stronger than ever.”
Cole hopes Vice can re-open the taproom by the end of this week or, at the latest, early next week. He said the owners thought they’d have more time to work out something with their landlord and were caught off guard when the taproom was “shut down unexpectedly” Tuesday.
And while Vice has “had some struggles along the way,” Cole said they’ve received a “humbling” amount of support since news spread of their troubles. They’ve had people reach out from as far away as Alaska, he said.
Cole expects things to be easier now that the Homewood facility is open. Their plan was always for the production facility — which enables Vice to sell beer outside its taprooms — to increase the brewery’s exposure and reach to customers.
It was just that construction of the facility proved “painstaking” and “time-consuming,” Cole said.
“I think everyone’s really looking for Vice to bounce back,” he said. “We’re fully committed to navigating this process and continue to be a motivating force for other individuals … who want to step out and follow their dreams.
“With risks sometimes comes misfortunes and, we hope … comes rewards.”
An attorney for the landlord declined to comment.