UPTOWN — A business coming to Uptown is hoping someone will take a piece of neighborhood history off their hands.
The pizza oven from the now-closed Godfather’s Famous Pizza is available for free as long as it goes to a good home. Andrew Pillman, owner of the forthcoming Uptown Taproom, said he hopes to offload the pizza oven to make space for his new business.
The massive pizza oven sits front and center at 1265 W. Wilson Ave., where Godfather’s Famous Pizza operated from 1966 to 2018. Godfather’s closed after a 52-year run on Wilson Avenue due to rising rents, its owners said at the time.
Its pizza oven has remained in place.
Now, Pillman is working to bring his latest taproom to the Wilson Avenue storefront that housed Godfather’s. But something has to be done with the pizza oven that’s in his bar’s seating area.
“I just don’t want to see it scrapped,” Pillman said. “We just want to see it running and [do] whatever we can to keep these ovens going.”
The oven is from Faulds, whose owner, Oak Park’s John Faulds, received a patent for his rotating, Ferris-wheel-style oven in the 1930s, according to Fooditor.
Faulds ovens became popular at Chicago-area pizzerias in the 1950s and remain coveted by pizza makers locally and throughout the United States, Fooditor reported. They’re so popular that some restaurateurs will go to extreme lengths to keep their decades-old Faulds ovens running.
Pillman is not sure exactly how old the oven is, but he believes it to be original to Godfather’s. That would make it about 56 years old. It can bake up to 30 pizzas at a time, he said.
Pillman has received “several” inquiries from people interested in the oven. Most of them are in the pizza business, with some as far as Portland and New Orleans.
“I’d love to give it away locally, but if someone wants to haul it across the country, that’s OK, too,” he said.
Like the space it inhabits, the oven has sat dormant for the nearly four years since Godfather’s closed. But the spot will soon be revived.
Uptown Taproom is to open this fall. It will be the third business from Pillman’s Neighborhood Taprooms LLC.
The first of the company’s bars, Lakeview Taproom, opened in summer 2020. Lincoln Square Taproom opened in the former Huettenbar location in September.
The businesses focus on local craft beer and being community hubs, Pillman said. A resident of Uptown, Pillman knew he wanted his third business to be in his community, he said.
“I always wanted to do something close to home,” he said. “I think this is something the neighborhood can embrace.”
Uptown Taproom will have noticeable additions that its sister businesses don’t have, like a kitchen serving burgers, salads and appetizers, Pillman said. It also will have a 30-foot-long bar with more than 90 percent of the beers on tap coming from Chicago and the surrounding areas, Pillman said.
Uptown Taproom is taking over the neighboring spot, as well, with an event space. It will include a small stage for comedy nights and live music, Pillman said.
Pillman’s other taprooms frequently host parties and family gatherings, so it made sense to have a rentable space for entertainment, he said.
“We want to offer something else to the neighborhood, but on a smaller scale,” he said. “It will be an intimate atmosphere.”
Uptown Taproom will also have cafe seating along Wilson Avenue and a patio, Pillman said.
But first, Pillman needs to do something with the giant pizza oven. He hopes there is someone who can keep the oven cranking out pizzas for decades to come, or at least use the machine as spare parts for other working ovens.
The oven can be had for free, but if someone is adamant about paying for it, Pillman said he will donate the proceeds to charity.
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