Bar ready to tap into new life it poured into downtown Champaign building

Bar ready to tap into new life it poured into downtown Champaign building

CHAMPAIGN — As a business, the Pour Bros. taproom won't have much in common with the car dealership that started out in its building.

But when construction crews were digging trenches for new pipes into the Overland-Rickard Company building, they stumbled on a beer bottle from a local brewing company that no longer exists.

"It was completely intact from a brewery in Danville that closed in Prohibition," said Aaron Haunhorst, project manager for ECI Service Group. "Fecker Brewing. We kept the bottle."

They kept much more than the bottle, trying to keep as much of the original building intact as possible, down to the grid patterns on the second-floor windows.

The building's owner, "Dr. (William) Youngerman insisted that we make the building look like it used to look like," said ECI owner David Crow.

They looked at a picture of the building at 40 E. University Ave., C, taken in 1920, a year after it was built, and tried to match it brick-for-brick.

"We duplicated the storefront to mimic the same glass patterns. We counted the bricks to make sure we had the right height," Crow said. "We took out all the windows upstairs, which over time had been changed out, and we duplicated the grid pattern."

The building also has its original concrete floor, ceilings and bricks.

"We sandblasted and sealed the brick," Crow said. "All the exterior walls and floors are from the original structure."

Originally used as an auto dealer's showroom, the building could hold some 30 cars, with a car elevator to the second floor.

The elevator has been removed, but the door people drove through to get to it has been restored.

"They had three layers of paint on them, but we sandblasted them down and had them refinished," Crow said.

The project was expected to cost $1.2 million, with $100,000 to be reimbursed by the city through the Downtown Fringe Tax Increment Financing district.

The 1920 picture will be prominently displayed above the Pour Bros. bar, but most customers won't be spending much time at the bar.

While they can buy a mixed drink or bottle of beer there, customers will pour their own beer from the taps and pay by the ounce.

Customers check in with their ID and credit or debit card, then they receive a "Pour Card" that can be tapped at any of the 28 taps.

Once they choose a tap, customers can pour as little or as much as they want, and that amount will be added to their tab.

"You're not having to wait getting your beer, and you can try what you want," said co-owner and manager Jason Fowler. "You pour what you want, and you're only going to pay for that."

It's a concept Pour Bros. uses at their original Peoria location, which opened a couple years ago.

"It's worked really well in Peoria," Fowler said. "Well enough that we've been able to go in a second location."

Customers will have to check in with a staffer after a certain number of ounces, and at the end of the night, they check out and pay.

"If you walk out with the card, we have your credit-card info, so we'll charge them a small fee for leaving with the card, for a replacement fee," Fowler said.

The taps will focus on craft beers, with a "Centr-IL" section focusing specifically on local beers.

There will also be four taps for wine.

And Fowler said the selections will be constantly changing.

"We will not put the same beer up in a row," he said. "If a tap has Bell's Oberon, when that keg's gone, the next keg might be Triptych Dank Meme."

Fowler hopes to open this Saturday.

"One of the partners is in Springfield right now, waiting in line to get his liquor license," he said. "We should be ready for Saturday."

Through the years

Timeline of the Overland-Rickard Building constructed in 1919 at 40 E. University Ave., C:

Pre-1919: Lumberyard

1919-32: Overland-Rickard Company (Willys-Overland dealer)

1932-35: H.E. Daniels Sales and Service (Dodge and Plymouth dealer)

1935-41: Sears Roebuck & Company

1942-44: K F & G Motor Company (Lincoln Mercury dealer)

1944-56: Interlocking Farm & Home Store (hardware)

1956-67: Piccadilly Liquor

1967-83: Champaign Surplus

1985-94: Champaign-Urbana Convention and Visitors Bureau

2003-06: Habitat for Humanity ReStore

2018: Pour Bros. Craft Taproom

Source: City of Champaign council packet