Owners of Rosemont entertainment district hope for a rebound in 2022
Mike Matuschka admits that out of habit every time he gets out of his car he always looks for a mask before entering a business.
“Obviously that’s always on people’s minds,” he said.
But two years into the pandemic — and a year after it was the last straw that led to the closure of its struggling German brewery in the Rosemont entertainment district — Matuschka is putting down roots and doubling down on its investment. the low.
He and his business partner, Father Joe, have revamped and reinvented part of the cavernous old Hofbräuhaus Chicago into a pizzeria and craft beer bar — a concept he says will be more financially profitable year-round.
At the same time, he hopes the pandemic will finally turn the corner into endemic.
“Honestly, I’m 100% confident. I don’t think people will be released back into custody. I don’t think people will want to come out anymore. They’ve been there for two years,” said Matuschka, who opened Crust Brewing at Parkway Bank Park in Rosemont in February. “This village – this entertainment district – you’re not going to hold anyone here. Without my crystal ball, I’m 100% – it’s going to be a home run.”
It’s a similar level of confidence expressed by others who manage or own venues in the 200,000-square-foot complex adjacent to the Tri-State Tollway — home to 15 restaurants and entertainment venues — that could have been the child. poster poster of how the pandemic has affected the hospitality industry.
As they prepare for the warmer spring and summer months — when free weekly concerts typically draw thousands to the park — business owners are talking more like it’s 2019 all over again.
“We have to double down. We’re already there,” said Kevin Killerman, owner or partner of several park venues. “There are great restaurants and entertainment there. Where else can you get free parking, concerts and ice skating and walk from place to place? There are so many ‘options.’
Killerman is part of a group of investors who are buying the other part of the village’s 20,000 square foot former Hofbräuhaus. He and Braden Real Estate Chairman and CEO Marc Offit teamed up with Texas businessmen Corey Urbach and Greg Sacony to bring Pete’s Dueling piano bar back to the entertainment district.
The 5,800-square-foot piano bar opened April 1, while renovations are nearing completion on an adjoining 1,800-square-foot bar that will open as Pete’s Tiki Tiki in May.
The piano bar’s first iteration opened in November 2019 in a different building in the Entertainment District, but closed the following March amid the COVID-19 outbreak. After a brief reopening in the summer of 2020 for outdoor dining and limited indoor seating, Pete’s closed and was converted into the recreational marijuana dispensary Verilife, which leases the building to Killerman and Offit.
“It’s legal and it’s a great, safe place to go,” said Killerman, who said the variety of sites in the park offers something for everyone, “from 2 years old to 82 years old.”
While trying to maintain its family-friendly daytime image, the park has evolved since its opening a decade ago to become a major nightlife destination in the northwest suburbs.
That’s why Killerman and village officials were convinced to bring back the piano bar, which opened to large crowds and party bookings in 2019.
Next door, at the 13,400-square-foot pizzeria and brasserie the Matuschkas bought from the village — previously they rented the whole building for Hofbräuhaus — the owners say they’ve had success since introducing the new concept in February.
They kept the brewing equipment from Germany – nine huge fermentation tanks that face the toll on the outside and eight service tanks inside – but completely transformed the interior. Crust’s menu includes seven staple beers brewed on site and around 20 Neapolitan-style pizzas.
Hofbräuhaus — a draw in September and October and at weekends, but quiet on summer weeknights — might have been able to survive, but in a smaller space, Matuschka said.
After eight years of working with the German brewery, he says he is happy with how the new pizza and beer restaurant is being received by customers.
“When was the last time you went out for German food, and when was the last time you went out for pizza? said Matushka. “Unfortunately, in this hospitality industry where profit margins are pretty slim, people don’t go out for German all the time.”