Smylie Brothers Brewing Company stealthily opens second Lakeview location
It’s hard to organize the surprise opening of a 10,000 square foot craft brewery in a busy neighborhood like Lakeview, but that’s what the owners of Smylie Brothers Brewing Company have been trying to do since early September.
They wanted to wait for a grand opening, says owner Michael Smylie, until they were full. Almost two months after it opened, the new location, Smylie Brothers’ second, is still not mentioned on the brewery’s website or on social media. But the lack of promotion still didn’t stop the crowds.
“For a quiet opening, we’ve been very busy,” says Smylie. “That we love. The neighbors watched the place build for two years, and we felt some pressure to open right away due to the time it took.
After eight years in Evanston, the Smylie wanted to bring the combination of sparse beer, pizza, and Texan-style barbecue to a second location in town; the menu at Lakeview would be similar to Evanston, with a few variations, such as the addition of a baby-back and spare ribs combo tray and a menu of brewery-specific beers.
He chose the location at 3827 N. Broadway in East Lakeview because the area was teeming with young professionals in their 20s and 30s and was very busy. Plus, her closeness to Wrigley Field attracted Smylie, a lifelong Cubs fan.
Construction started two years ago. He had just reached mid-term when COVID-19 hit and shut down the entire operation. When Smylie was able to start over, he had to hire new work teams. He also found that banks had frozen loans and because the brewery was not yet open, it was not eligible for Payment Protection Program (PPP) loans. “I just wanted to throw a match in place and get out of there,” Smylie says. “But we really wanted to be in Chicago and we had already put so much in there that we didn’t want to go.”
After all of this, however, Smylie is happy with the brewing outcome. There are three separate bars, one with a view of the brewery, and around 140 additional seats spread over booths and tables. The space, when Smylie Brothers took it over, was very industrial, with high ceilings and concrete floors, but Smylie softened it by adding color, in the form of tiles, accent walls and wooden and leather cabins. Smylie is particularly proud of the wall decorated with shou sugi ban, a Japanese wood-burning technique.
Now that the Lakeview Brewery is full, Smylie is ready to announce its existence to the world – he’s updating the website and waiting for some out-of-stock equipment to arrive. The food menu is still a bit under construction – although Smylie promises there will always be a barbecue – as is the live music program; happy hour and trivia night are however already established for the first part of the week.
“Our core product will not change,” he says. “We’re going to produce stuff just for ads. There is always something changing about craft beer, and we’ll be able to do it on the fly.
Smylie Brothers Brewing Company Lakeview, 3827 N. Broadway, open 5 pm to 10 pm Wednesday to Saturday, 5 pm to 9 pm Sunday and Monday.