HYDE PARK — A spirits shop is coming to Hyde Park this week, replacing a South Side staple that operated in Kimbark Plaza for decades.
A&S Beverages will open Friday at 1214 E. 53rd St. in the Kimbark Plaza shopping center. It’s a “soft opening” for the wine and spirits chain’s third location, ahead of a grand opening ceremony planned for the next month or so, CEO Ahmad “Eddie” Elkhatib said.
A&S’ hours are 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-midnight Friday-Saturday.
The chain bought the former Kimbark Beverage Shoppe from Jonathan Swain, whose family owned the store for a half-century, earlier this year.
“When we purchased the business, we purchased the product, as well; so, we’ll continue carrying same product as Kimbark and add on to it,” Elkhatib said. “We rehabbed the place and gave it new look, a new facade.”
The flagship A&S opened four decades ago as a “typical convenience, wine and spirits store” at 308 E. 75th St. in Park Manor, while Elkhatib took control of the business in 1993, he said. The company also operates a larger store at 5058 S. Halsted St. in Back of the Yards.
Elkhatib decided in the late 2000s to “take the company in a different place,” offering a “worldwide” variety of spirits and starting up tasting classes for a better shopping experience, he said.
Managers and sales associates also learn the ins and outs of the products that the store carries to make informed recommendations, Elkhatib said.
The Hyde Park location will offer a tasting room for customers to sample products and occasionally take classes — similar to its Back of the Yards shop, but not as large. It will also feature a humidor with “no less than 200 to 300 different cigars” and opportunities for cigar-rolling events, Elkhatib said.
“Jonathan picked our business [to sell to] because we know how to continue the legacy of his family and how to be a part of the neighborhood,” Elkhatib said. “Hyde Park is a very high-end neighborhood and he wanted to maintain that.“
Kimbark Beverage Shoppe was one of Kimbark Plaza’s original tenants, dating back to 1963, and was bought by John Swain Sr. in 1974. His son, Jonathan Swain, took over the family business in 2008.
The younger Swain and his family members have contemplated a sale for the past few years as they’ve faced the deaths of his parents, the COVID-19 pandemic and a changing liquor industry, he said.
The family determined “now was a good time to sell and put the business in a new owner’s hands,” Swain said. He will remain A&S’ landlord as a shareholder in the cooperatively owned Kimbark Plaza.
“The business has come to rely solely on volume discounting for purchases. The more that you’re purchasing, the better the pricing — especially so in the most recent years,” Swain said. “Our response was to either add more locations and grow in volume or exit, so we decided to exit.”
A&S is well-suited to become the Hyde Park go-to that Kimbark Beverage Shoppe was for decades while remaining competitive with larger chains like Binny’s, Swain said.
“Their track record has been committed to the community. If they hadn’t [been], I wouldn’t have agreed to the sale,” Swain said. “People are excited about A&S opening in Hyde Park. He’ll have no problem adapting to the neighborhood.”
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