Flatlander’s to leave Lincolnshire; brewery going to Mundelein
Brewery Technician Topher Soya of Chicago helps to take down the brewing equipment at Flatlander's Restaurant and Brewery in Lincolnshire, which is closing its Lincolnshire location on Jan. 22. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media
OUTLOOK FOR 2012
Steve McNellis and Bob Irvin on Monday spoke to a crowd of about 40 Chamber members in Philly G’s about a variety of plans Village Hall has in 2012.
The mobile phone tower near the intersection of Illinois Route 22 and Milwaukee Avenue should be moved east in the late spring, clearing the way for development possibilities there.
“Hopefully we’re getting somewhere here,” McNellis said.
A vacant four-story office building at 577 Aptakisic Road will be completely occupied, the village hopes, by this summer by Sysmex Corp., which is moving its offices from Mundelein.
Kubota Engine America, which has an 80,000 square foot facility at the intersection of Schelter Road and Heathrow Drive, will increase to 180,000 square feet.
Irvin said hotel occupancy rates are rising, and that the daytime population — 27,000 a few years ago — has risen back to near 24,000.
The latest sales tax figures, from September 2011, were 25 percent ahead of that point in 2010.
The increase in revenues enabled Village Hall to stop the three consecutive years of staff layoffs and put increased funding into road-repair projects.
“Unlike the last few years, I think there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” McNellis added. “It’s growing. Hopefully it’s not another train coming at us.”
Updated: February 13, 2012 8:59AM
One of Lincolnshire’s most prominent eateries will close its doors in two weeks.
Flatlander’s Restaurant and Brewery, which has operated at 200 Village Green for 16 years, is moving its food operation to Vernon Hills and its brewery to Mundelein.
“They have not announced that they are closing, but they are moving out,” Lincolnshire Community Development Director Steve McNellis said. “They have an auction coming up. They will be open for the next few weeks.”
McNellis broke the news Tuesday afternoon during the Greater Lincolnshire Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting; as it does every January, the Chamber invited McNellis and Village Manager Bob Irvin to speak to the membership about Village Hall’s plans for the new year.
Russ Sher, Flatlander’s owner, said a range of factors forced him to split his operation up, including increased competition, street and building designs and the desire to sell more beer.
“It’s sad,” Sher said of leaving his business’ first home. “We would have liked to have stayed, but the economics just didn’t match up.”
Flatlander’s will pour its last brews on Jan. 22, concluding an action Sher said he started thinking about six months ago. The full menu remains open until then.
Sher said he will open a new restaurant without the on-site microbrewery, but with a similar menu, in early February in Vernon Hills; pending contract finalizations, he declined to give the new eatery’s name or location. Sher will continue brewing, as well, at a new site in Mundelein; he said his beers will be on tap at his new restaurant, but that the focus will be on wider distribution.
“We’re taking the Flatlander’s brand and selling it as beer only,” he said.
Both Flatlander’s and the shopping center it anchors, Village Green, have had troubles in recent years. Sher fell behind on both taxes and rent, the latter prompting Village Green to remove the brewery’s name from its signs.
Village Green has floundered since opening in 1996; Citigroup, Inc. purchased the shopping center on the northeast corner of Olde Half Day Road and Milwaukee Avenue for almost $28 million in 2007, then sold it in late 2010 for $12 million. Numerous storefronts remain unoccupied, and Sher lamented that the parking design made it difficult for tourists and visitors from other suburbs to find and enter the complex.
“They’d end up going to other restaurants,” he said.
Many of which have popped up on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue in recent years.
“Sales diminished, a lot more competition has opened,” he said.
Sher said his new restaurant will have 8,800 square feet, down from the current facility’s 14,000; all the current employees will be welcome to take jobs at the new location. The menu will be similar, but his intention is to not only make foods that will pair well with his beers, but to infuse his beers into more of his sauces.
“I’m waiting for customers to say ‘Oh yeah, you’re cooking with it more,’” he said.
The beers will become a separate operation called Old Chicago Brewing Co., which will need another three months to get going. The products’ brand will remain Flatlander’s and the recipes will be similar, Sher said, but he plans to increase the offerings from five full-time brands and 15 seasonals and limited-time specials to eight regulars and 30 or 40 specials.
Though moving to another community, Sher said he intended to remain a visible presence in Lincolnshire. Under their new names, his businesses will take part in Taste of Lincolnshire and other events organized by the Lincolnshire Community Association.
“Anything that the LCA puts on, we will not abandon that,” he said.