Burnt City Brewing founder Steve Soble has spent 24 years in Lincoln Park, but Sunday will be his brewery’s last day open. Burnt City started as a gastropub with a bowling alley called Lucky Strike back in 1996. Soble and team began brewing beer in 2012 as Atlas Brewing until switching names again in 2016 to Burnt City due to a trademark claim. Now, one of Chicago’s first brewpubs is packing up to move to West Town. The new space should open this spring.
They’re throwing a closing party on Sunday night, an Irish wake, geared at reducing inventory to make the move easier. They’ll tap into some vintage reserve beers and attempt to drink the place dry. There’s no special beers as they stopped brewing in January.
“It’s a celebration, not a mourning,” Soble said.
There’s a lot of history to unpack along Lincoln Avenue. Sobol sold his gastropub’s trademarked name, Lucky Strike, to the California chain that last week opened a second location in Chicago in Wrigleyville. The bowling part of the operation changed names to Seven Ten Lounge in 2004. Despite the name changes, Soble built a strong fanbase in Chicago. He had been dreaming of opening a brewpub for years. He and two partners, Ray Daniels (the founder of the Cicerone Certification Program) and Randy Mosher (an author and partner at 5 Rabbits Cerveceria, among other beer-related endeavors) proposed to open a brewery in 1995 in Ravenswood. The plan was voted down by a neighborhood group. Soble might have been a few years early with the idea, as Ravenswood is now teaming with breweries including Spiteful, Dovetail, Band of Bohemia, and Begyle.
“Not that we’d have been successful there,” Soble said.
The brewpub will continue to evolve in West Town at 417 N. Ashland Avenue. That’s a former photo studio, and Soble said the space looks great. They haven’t done extensive work inside. Soble gushed about the timber-loft space with high ceilings. They’ll have more room to make experimental beers. They’re still finalizing the food menu which will center around barbecue. They haven’t named the restaurant’s smoker.
“We name our beer tanks,” Soble said.
In case anyone was wondering, the tanks are named after Sylvester Stallone movies with names like “Rocky,” “Cobra,” and “Rambo.” Beers like the popular Face Melter Hibiscus IPA will come in cans. The new place won’t have growlers to go, Soble said. The restaurant portion will be more quick serve where customers order at the counter and eat at communal tables.
Spending more than two decades in Lincoln Park is a testament to the neighborhood, customers, and workers that came through the bar turned brewery, Soble said. He’s eager to grow the business in West Town. Customers can grab one final pint on Sunday night. Soble said he’ll share more details on the new space soon.