Chicago’s first cider house is targeting a summer opening in Old Irving Park, as the crew behind Eris Brewery and Cider House gave groups an under-construction sneak peek inside their three-floor facility. Michelle Foik and Katy Pizza persisted, unveiling Eris’ new logo and showcasing an ambitious space with 20-foot ceilings in the main dining room on the second floor. The tours at 4240 W. Irving Park Rd. were in honor of CiderCon and Chicago Cider Week, as the industry this week descended upon Chicago.
The duo also officially announced their brewmaster. Hayley Shine spent nearly a decade at Rock Bottom Brewery. Shine will begin brewery sessional beers while Eris establishes itself. Guests will drink fresh hard cider and beer made on premises.
“We have a brewery,” Foik told a tour group on Wednesday. “Everyone is focused on cider, but we have a brewery.”
The fact that Eris will be a full-service restaurant is also overshadowed. Foik plans on hiring a chef in April and wants the menu to be of “good quality and reasonable price.” She has an idea of what type of food she wants served, but she’s holding those cards close to her vest. She did reveal that beer and cider pairings for the food will be available.
The new chef will have the benefit of a kitchen on the same floor as the dining room as well as a prep kitchen downstairs where all the beer and cider tanks reside. Eventually, there will be a third kitchen on the third level, sharing the same level as their 200-seat private event room. Right now, the room is reminiscent of an old gymnasium. They’ll pulling up peel and stick floor tiles and finding all sorts of fun, including chicken wire.
Eris will pour from 16 taps, a combination of house-made ciders and beers. They’re not focusing on cellaring, as Foik and Pizza have other priorities. The beverage mix will depend on what guests drink: “Our audience will guide us on which one we will be making more of,” Foik said.
Guests will have lots to see while they imbibe, surrounded by century-old exposed brick. The main dining room will seat 140 to 150, and there’s also a 44-seat mezzanine with views that overlook the dining room. The main floor will have glass enclosures so diners can see some of the brewing process. The large windows on the building’s west side swing open to give diners seated in an elevated table area an al fresco feel. There’s also a rooftop, but the tour didn’t extend all the way upstairs: “The skyline from up on top of the roof is amazing,” Foik teased.
There will be growing pains, as Foik and Pizza announced the project back in 2014. Ownership wanted to the flexibility to expand inside the 106-year-old building that housed Freemasons until 1981. The building was then a Korean Presbyterian church until Eris took over. While many breweries start small and scale up, Eris is doing the opposite.
“You don't hear about breweries complaining about having too much space,” Pizza said.
They don’t have the luxury of tearing down walls and bringing in new tanks after they open, Pizza added.
The main entrance is located on the west side of the building, through the parking lot. That will lead to a gift shop/bottle shop where patrons can buy merchandise with that new logo. Growlers will come about a year later, as the Eris team wants to drum up business inside their new building before providing the option of taking beer or cider to go.
Also, don’t be alarmed by the signage reading “Chicago Police Department” on the Irving Park side of the building. Eris’ exterior is doubling as a fictional station on Fox’s new television show, APB, which debuted this week. The building actually made it into a Super Bowl commercial for the show on Sunday before Lady Gaga’s halftime heroics.