The Evolution of a Trend
I’m not one to brag, but I think it’s clear that kudos are in order to our crack editorial team for once again identifying and being on top of an interesting emerging local trend. I’m referring, of course, to our cover article on the explosion of craft brewing in the western suburbs.
Now if you’re an avid beer drinker, you are probably thinking to yourself that we are actually more than a bit late to the party — that the growing popularity of craft beer has been going on for years. And you’d be more right than you probably even realized. Because the cover article I’m referring to is not the one in this issue, but the one we ran back in September of 1996 with the headline, “Something’s Brewing in the Burbs.” At the time, there were a handful of new start-up microbreweries in the area, among the most notable of which were Pavichevich Brewing in Elmhurst and Founders Hill Brewing in downtown Downers Grove. We featured the Head Brewmaster of Founders Hill on our cover and did an interview with local beer pioneer Ken Pavichevich, creator of the then critically acclaimed Baderbrau beers.
Unfortunately, within a year or two of our original article, there was a significant lull in the popularity of craft beer. As a result, most of that first wave of brewing entrepreneurs went out of business — though the building that housed Founders Hill stayed true to its beer-making roots and is now home to an Emmett’s Brewing location. Ironically, that was also about the time siblings Jim and Jason Ebel opened Two Brothers Brewing in Warrenville. Now considered the elder statesmen — or grizzled veterans — of today’s craft beer scene, the Ebels were able to survive through some challenging early years (see page 40 for a Q&A with Jason) and help lay the groundwork for the current craft beer craze. Now with more than 50 craft breweries, brewpubs and tap rooms in the western suburbs alone, it looks like this time craft beer is truly here to stay. Remember where you heard about it first — 20-plus years ago in West Suburban Living, and now again with our extensive coverage starting on page 34.
This issue also contains a feature about another local entrepreneur who took a similarly popular but far from glamorous product — hot dogs — and created a billion dollar business. That person is Dick Portillo. For those interested in the inside story on how Portillo’s restaurants came to be — or who are looking for practical tips on how to run a successful company — check out our Q&A with him on page 12.
We hope you enjoy these and the many other articles in this issue. As always, thanks for being a reader, and our sincere best wishes to you for a happy new year!Edit Module