Three years after closing its brewpub, Lagunitas Brewing is reopening on April 13 to the general public in North Lawndale, near Douglass Park.
The closure was a part of a glut of shutters as restaurants coped with their health, government mitigation measures, and dwindling consumer confidence during a pandemic without a COVID vaccine. Some places announced temporary closures but never returned. In the case of Three Floyds’ brewpub in Munster, Indiana, the brewery shifted strategies to permanently close. Though, in happier news, the Dark Lord Day music and beer festival is returning to the grounds in May for the first time since 2020.
For breweries, running a restaurant added to the pressure. Retail sales increased with on-premise consumption suspended through parts of the pandemic. That kept breweries busy even though they had to sort through separate COVID regulations that applied to places that made food or beverage. In that world, beer makers were considered “essential workers.”
Before closing in March 2020, Lagunitas had built up a following in the Midwest with beers like A Lil Sumpin’ Sumpin’ and Willettized. Founded in Lagunitas, California in 1993, it opened its Chicago brewery in 2014 near Douglass Park. Its independent vibe proved popular with drinkers and big breweries noticed. In September 2015, the multinational company that owns Heineken purchased a 50-percent stake in Lagunitas. Two years later, Heineken’s parent purchased the remaining 50 percent
The brewery also ran a Seattle taproom that is permanently closed. A spokesperson told Crain’s back in December that labor conditions made it hard to reopen in Chicago. They wanted to reopen in winter 2022.
The brewpub will reactivate its 32 taps on April 13 and the kitchen will once more serve up sandwiches, mussels, and more. Chicago’s beer scene has changed a lot since 2014. A lot has changed since 2020. For example, breweries are offering non-alcoholic options. Lagunitas sells sparkling hop water. Chicago has even added an extra “S” to Douglass Park to distance itself from the original honoree who was a slaveholder. More directly impacting the brewery, there remain concerns about permanent financial damage from the pandemic. There’s the worry that taprooms aren’t keeping as busy. Guinness is ignored that doom and gloom and are scheduled to open its Chicago taproom this summer in Fulton Market.
But there’s also renewed interest in the area as restaurants such as Soule move into the area. Riding that momentum, Lagunitas’ fans could return to the Chicago TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary on April 13. They’ll be open Thursday through Sunday, according to a news release.
Lagunitas Chicago TapRoom & Beer Sanctuary, 2607 W. 17th Street, planned for a Thursday, April 13 reopening.