Craft-beer tap room to open in downtown Champaign in spring

Craft-beer tap room to open in downtown Champaign in spring

CHAMPAIGN — A bar dedicated to craft beer could open late this spring in downtown Champaign.

The Brass Tap will be in the One Main development, in the building just south of the Orpheum Children's Science Museum on Neil Street.

Franchise owner Samir Naik hopes to begin construction in the next three to four weeks.

"It's a craft-beer bar, with an average of 60 beers on tap at most locations," Naik said. "Most of the beers will be local or regional."

The Brass Tap will also carry some more mainstream craft beers, along with some wines, liquors and food offerings.

"By no means are we a restaurant, but we'll have a variety of selections of foods," Naik said.

The Brass Tap, started in 2008 in Florida with three locations, currently has 46 around the country and has more than 100 in the pipeline, Naik said.

Naik, who used to run the Best Western Riverside Hotel in Danville, said he visited one of The Brass Tap locations in Florida in 2014 while visiting his in-laws and ended up talking to corporate representatives about bringing it to central Illinois.

"Their team toured (Champaign-Urbana) about a year ago," Naik said, and they liked what they saw.

Naik said the business will combine his experience in hospitality and his interest in beer.

"I'm a beer junkie by heart," Naik said.

In 2015, Naik announced The Brass Tap was coming to Champaign in 2016, but it took three tries to find the right location.

He was originally hoping to open on University Avenue, but that fell through "for unknown reasons to us," Naik said.

Then he went to another development in downtown that fell through, before ending up with One Main.

"It's been great working with Dave Jones," Naik said about the president of One Main Development.

Said Jones: "I'm excited about it. Obviously, we have a lot of options downtown. I like the idea of expanding this little triangular retail center we have here. I think it will be a great addition to the area."

He also hopes it helps attract more businesses to that building, which still has space available.

Naik acknowledged the downtown competition, but he said there's room for more.

"Champaign is a growing, diverse market. I think there's still room for it to grow," he said. "And being owner-operator gives me more flexibility to modify the concept to change with the times."

Once it opens, Naik said The Brass Tap will have 15 to 19 employees.

The nearest The Brass Tap location is in Orland Park in the Chicago suburbs.

Sections (3):News, Local, Business
Topics (2):Food, Restaurants

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whatithink wrote on January 18, 2018 at 9:01 am

Cool!  This town needs another bar!  I hope the have video gambling machines, too!

Chambanacitizen wrote on January 18, 2018 at 11:01 am

Glad to see another bar downtown that isn't owned by the usual Champaign 1percent. Something different for once. Best wishes, I'll be there when ya open!