ENGLEWOOD — Englewood Brews, a taproom and brewery scheduled to open next spring near Kennedy-King College, is turning to crowdfunding to make the South Side brewery a reality.
The brewery planned for 821 W. 63rd St. launched an Indiegogo campaign hoping to raise $50,000 for the buildout and to “provide jobs and skills training for local residents” as part of the construction.
The campaign has netted 60 backers who have donated $10,620 of the $50,000 needed.
Proprietors Lesley Roth and Steve Marchese have spent the last two years working on the space, and construction on the production side of the brewery is set to begin soon.
Backers have a range of perks to choose from. People who make a $100 contribution can get Englewood Brewery merchandise, VIP status at the grand opening and their name on a wall. A $500 contribution that sponsors two days of labor for two Englewood residents to build out the taproom offers the aforementioned brewery swag and a three-month crowler membership.
Roth said that starting a crowdsourcing campaign was a way of engaging the community, giving them a sense of ownership and “pride in place.”
“They’ll have the opportunity to design the furniture and fixtures for the taproom, and see their name on a wall, so when they bring their friends, they can point to it and go, ‘Yes, this is mine. I did this,'” said Roth. “It fosters goodwill and skill building.”
The brewery plans to hire Englewood residents for a dozen positions, from servers to bookkeepers. The taproom itself will serve as a multipurpose event space, hosting everything from weddings to yoga classes.
“There’s a real lack of flexible space in the community,” said Roth, an architect and urban designer. “There are a lot of entrepreneurs here, and microbreweries are flexible to accommodate local food vendors and other artisans. Developing programming around what the community wanted was the way we structured our brewery.”
The owners also want to expose people to the science behind brewing. Englewood Brews will team up with Kennedy-King College and Washburne Culinary Institute for student-designed beer paired menus, and partner with the Dean of Curriculum to develop certification programs for residents to work on the production side, connecting them with a glut of manufacturing and industrial jobs in the south suburbs.
“We really wanted to focus on being a pipeline for career development for workforce training, and to showcase the amazing people and skill and talent in the community,” said Roth.
“There’s a pride of place determination in Englewood that we’ve haven’t seen in any other neighborhood,” added Roth. “There’s a will and an excitement, a real kind of power there. Not to say that there aren’t other great neighborhoods, but with the history of the community, and everything going on right now, we really see this as a chance to be part of Englewood’s amazing future.”
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