Ravenswood’s Empirical Brewery Evicted From Malt Row Home, Officials Say, Leading To Sudden Closing

RAVENSWOOD — Empirical Brewery abruptly closed over the weekend after the business was served an eviction notice for its Foster Avenue taproom after seven years in business, officials said.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office received an eviction notice from a judge Sept. 22 and enforced it Friday, sheriff’s spokeswoman Shereen Mohammad said.

Additional details about why Empirical was evicted were not immediately available.

Empirical Owner Bill Hurley could not be immediately reached for comment. A representative from Hayes Properties Inc., which owns the property, also was not immediately available for comment.

Fans of the brewery and neighbors were caught by surprise when its owners abruptly announced Friday on social media Sunday would be Empirical’s last day in business.

“Last call for Empirical…,” the brewery posted on social media. “Unfortunately the Brewery will be closing after this weekend. “We will explain more soon, but for now we just want to say thanks for all the love and cheers to one more weekend! 🍻💛🍻”

Fans flocked to the taproom at 1801 W. Foster Ave. throughout the weekend to get a last few pints.

Green string lights, stacks of kegs and other brewery equipment could still be seen inside the building Monday. The taproom still had plastic cups and glasses of leftover beer on tables and some of the fall leaves were scattered near the inside of the taproom’s entrance.

Credit: Alex V. Hernandez/Block Club Chicago
Empirical Brewery’s taproom, 1801 W. Foster Ave., on Oct. 24, 2022.

Empirical co-founders Hurley and Sumit Mehta started brewing beers together in 2009 and signed a lease in 2013 to open a brewery and taproom at the large brick industrial building on Foster Avenue.

The taproom opened in 2015 thanks to a successful an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, and has been a staple of the neighborhood’s “Malt Row.“

The taproom featured a 32-foot-long bar and had a family and dog-friendly atmosphere. Game nights were common and the brewery also had a colony of feral cats working to keep the building rodent-free.

Several of the brewery’s beers also became popular enough for the owners to start bottling and distributing around the area.

empirical closure comes less than two months since another neighborhood brewery, Urban Brew Labs, closed its doors. The brewery and taproom at 5121 N. Ravenswood Ave. closed Sept. 11. Owner James Moriarty said they “just didn’t have enough traction” with beer sales via distribution.

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