Justin Aprahamian, chef-owner of Sanford Restaurant and winner of Best Chef Midwest from the James Beard Foundation in 2014, plans to open a brewery in Chicago.
Aprahamian and business partner John Lavelle, who created the Beer Fridge app, will open Like Minds Brewery in a former Goose Island storage facility on Chicago’s near northwest side. The brewery also will have a taproom.
Aprahamian and Lavelle chose Chicago as a location because Like Minds was unable to get a brewpub permit from the State of Wisconsin. State law bars an owner of a brewpub or brewery from holding retail liquor licenses for other businesses — a law that would prevent large brewers from monopolizing distribution and sales of beer. Aprahamian has a retail liquor license for Sanford, 1547 N. Jackson St.
As if losing Justin Aprahamian and his brewery to Illinois isn’t bad enough, it appears officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration really didn’t care if Aprahamian took his business to Illinois.
Aprahamian and Lavelle estimate they looked at 50 potential sites in Milwaukee for the brewery and were negotiating distribution agreements when they saw “red flags.” They had their lawyer talk with the state. They also spoke with state officials.
“At one point, they said to us, ‘You can take this thing to Illinois,'” Lavelle said. “I actually had them repeat that.”
Apparently folks in Gov. Walker’s administration aren’t big believers in the idea that Wisconsin is “Open for Business.”