LOGAN SQUARE — Should Marz Community Brewing win approval to open a taproom at Milwaukee and Armitage avenues, patrons can expect experimental beer and snacks in a cozy room with tall ceilings — and maybe even collaborations with neighbor Margie’s Candies.
Co-founder and president Ed Marszewski pitched a handful of neighbors on the project at the Greater Goethe Neighborhood Association’s zoning committee meeting Monday evening, held at Haas Park Fieldhouse, 2402 N. Washtenaw Ave.
Marszewski said the former bank building at 1965 N. Western Ave. is a natural fit for Marz’s second taproom. Though Marszewski is a Bridgeport evangelist — he was once dubbed “The Mayor of Bridgeport” for all of his South Side-based bar and arts projects — he spent many years living and working in Logan Square before moving south.
“[The taproom location] is a block away from where I once lived and started one of my first magazines. The ice cream and the burritos across the street is basically what fed me for 10 years,” Marszewski said to laughs.
The taproom would be small, taking up about 1,300 square feet and offering about 40 seats. The plan is to sell experimental beer, kombucha, tea and an array of other Marz beverages, plus beer-friendly snacks like cheese plates, chips and jerky. Beer would be brewed on-site.
Like the McKinley Park taproom, the Logan Square location would also double as an arts and community venue.
Marszewski said he’d love to collaborate with Margie’s Candies, but right now it’s only an idea. The owner of Margie’s Candies was not available for comment Tuesday.
The brewery has already collaborated with Logan Square-based Pretty Cool Ice Cream on a Black Raspberry Sorbaze Milkshake IPA.
Currently, there are no plans for an outdoor patio, but many of the details are still being worked out as the project is in the very early stages, Marszewski said.
Marszewski and his partners need to win approval from the neighborhood group and 1st Ward Ald.-elect Daniel La Spata to lift the alcohol moratorium on the block. The moratorium covers Western Avenue from Bloomingdale to Armitage avenues. The establishments that serve alcohol on that stretch like Green Eye Lounge, for example, had to go through the same process Marz is going through.
Marszewski and his partners also need a special use permit from the city’s zoning board of appeals. Marszewski said the entire city approval and permitting process will take a year, if not more.
The co-founder emphasized they will only move forward with the project if neighbors support it.
“This step we’re at right now is super important for us to get the whole thing rolling. If you guys don’t want us to be there, we’re not going to commence with this project at all,” he said.
No one at Monday’s meeting had anything negative to say about the project. A couple residents asked Marszewski to create a plan of operation to ensure Marz is a good neighbor long-term. The plan would address potential issues including parking, trash pickup and security cameras. Marszewski said he’d be happy to create one.
“We just want this to be cool. We want this to be fun,” he said.
Resident Max Collopy said he supports the project for a number of reasons, not least among them because he likes the brewery’s beer and the McKinley Park’s taproom’s “artsy feel.”
“I think the location on Western is perfect. That building has been empty for a while. Western has lagged behind. I love the proximity to the L because you don’t want people drinking and driving,” Collopy said.
Marz Community Brewing was started by a group of home brewing aficionados and professional brewers. The group opened a small production facility on Halsted Street in McKinley Park in 2014 and then their first taproom at 3630 S. Iron St. in 2018.
The McKinley Park taproom also functions as an art gallery, community space and hub for Lumpen Radio, Marszewski’s radio station. It continues to be a big hit among casual beer drinkers and industry professionals alike.
But, as Marszewski pointed out, the McKinley Park taproom is a destination — meaning people don’t typically wander in.
“We’re are located on the South Side on a street you’ve never heard of with absolutely no foot traffic. We thought: What would happen if we opened a place that actually had foot traffic?” Marszewski said.
At the end of the meeting, when a resident asked if patrons will be able to eat Arturo’s Tacos and Margie’s Candies in the Logan Square taproom, Marszewski’s eyes lit up.
“Now, you and I understand what this place is all about. It is for us to order those burritos and tacos. … and have a really good beer. … Thank you. We’re friends,” Marszewski said to the resident.
“Maybe we would build — it’s a later discussion, we haven’t figured it out — but some pneumatic tube system under the street that allows the burritos to travel underneath Western into a chute into our taproom. That’s the future.”