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NWI Business Ins and Outs: Craft breweries close during COVID-19 pandemic, Up Your Alley coming back, Calumet Fisheries temporarily closed
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NWI Business Ins and Outs

NWI Business Ins and Outs: Craft breweries close during COVID-19 pandemic, Up Your Alley coming back, Calumet Fisheries temporarily closed

  • Updated

Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

After drying up revenue for months, the coronavirus pandemic has caused a few local craft breweries to go flat and fizz out.

Cognito Brewery at 8622 Louisiana Place in Merrillville has closed after three years.

The brewery tucked away in an industrial park with Lakeshore Public Media just southeast of U.S. 30 and Interstate 65 was known for its Belgian beers, such as its Belgian Blonde Ale She Devil, Champipple Thrills Belgian-style Tripel and Double Trouble Belgian Dubbel. One of the few black-owned breweries across greater Chicagoland, Cognito Brewery was known for serving pub food and artisan beers in a funky, soulful 1,500-square-foot taproom filled with bright graffiti murals and local artwork.

"Special thanks to all our customers over the years, but due to COVID-19 we are closing our doors permanently," owner Dwayne Williams said on Facebook.

Technically a nanobrewery in terms of production capacity, Cognito Brewery made small batches of beer on a nine-barrel system that was sold for consumption on-site at the taproom or in cans to go. Unlike other Northwest Indiana craft breweries, it could not fall back on retail sales of bottled or canned beer after the coronavirus resulted in a lockdown that lasted more than two months.

Cognito Brewery had been active in the local arts scene, serving as a venue for local artists and hosting an annual Latin-themed music festival.

Closed

The South Side staple Argus Brewery in Chicago's Pullman neighborhood has shuttered after a decade after the COVID-19 pandemic caused the keg business to dry up.

Argus Brewery, which has a production facility in a former stable that could be toured but not a taproom, is up for sale for $2.5 million on Craigslist. It won medals from the World Beer Cup, World Beer Championships and Great American Beer Festival, and was once visited by former President Barack Obama, who grabbed a few brews there when announcing Pullman would be designated a National Monument.

Previously rated by Trip Advisor as the top brewhouse tour in Chicago, the turkey operation at 11314 S. Front St. can produce up to 10,000 barrels a day. It was once the Joseph E. Schlitz distribution stables that delivered beer via horse-drawn wagon.

Recovering

Businesses in Calumet City, which have been guarded by Illinois National Guard units with Humvees after getting looted two weekends ago, can apply for one-time, zero-interest loans of up to $20,000 for small businesses and up to $10,000 for independent contractors for COVID-19 relief. 

The Chicago Community Loan Fund will administer the emergency relief loans for businesses in suburban Cook County through a network of community lenders.

Applications must be received before noon Wednesday.

For more information, call Vicki Brown at 708-232-3161.

Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart also will help with cleanup and getting businesses ready to reopen in Calumet City.

If interested in such services, call Calumet City's Economic Development Department at 708-891-8138.

Open

The Market Lounge in Valparaiso is opening for its first comedy show at 8 p.m. June 19.

Chicago comedian Kevin Kellam and the standups Michael Black and Koffe Black will perform in the former Strongbow Inn at 2405 Morthland Drive, at U.S. 30 and Ind. 49 in Valparaiso.

There's no cover but a two-drink minimum at the new comedy venue that aspires to be the new Wisecrackers, the venue at the former Radisson at Star Plaza that had been considered the Region's premier comedy club. The Market Lounge and Comedy Club will be open Thursday through Sunday, and also will host live music acts and karaoke on Saturday nights.

For more information, visit www.themarketvalpo.com or call 219-531-0162.

Coming soon

The housing developer Upholdings will build the 28-unit Harbor Square apartments at Broadway and Pulaski Street in East Chicago.

Mayor Anthony Copeland will be on hand for a groundbreaking ceremony at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The new apartment complex is located at 2301 Broadway St. in East Chicago's Indiana Harbor neighborhood.

For more information, visit www.upholdings.net.

Opening

Up Your Alley, the upscale bowling alley, restaurant and entertainment center, plans to open sometime later this week on Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville. The owners posted on Facebook that they soon would bring back ax-throwing, Cyber Sport and other attractions after “training staff, upgrading equipment and taking extra safety precautions.”

Coming soon

Brant Construction recently broke ground on a new $1.4 million church building for New Life Christian Church on Central Ave. in Whiting.

Open

The Miller Beach Farmers Market has opened from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays through June, July and August at 667 S. Lake St. in Gary's lakefront Miller neighborhood.

Laird Farms, Grounded Earth Farms and Lake County Eats Local are among the vendors that will be on hand.

"The market continues to follow the guidance of the state of Indiana in regards to the current COVID-19 crisis," The Miller Beach Farmers Market said in a news release. "In addition to onsite vendors, we are opening an online market where some of our vendors will be accepting pre-orders for pickup at the market."

For more information, call 219-938-6758 or email market@millerbeacharts.org.

Temporarily closed

Calumet Fisheries on Chicago's far South Side temporarily closed for two weeks after one of its employees tested positive for coronavirus. Anthony Bourdain once visited the legendary James Beard Award-winning fish shack on the bridge that the Blue Brothers famously jumped over.

For a longer list of open businesses, visit nwi.com/weareopen.

If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com.

Opening

Up Your Alley, the upscale bowling alley, restaurant and entertainment center, plans to open sometime later this week on Indianapolis Boulevard in Schererville. The owners posted on Facebook that they soon would bring back ax-throwing, Cyber Sport and other attractions after "training staff, upgrading equipment and taking extra safety precautions."

Coming soon

Smile Dental Art & Surgery will bring dental services soon to the 27,608-square-foot Main Street Center at Indianapolis Boulevard and Main Street in Schererville, just south of the Highland border.

Opening soon

Chester's Video Bar plans to open Friday at 791 Indian Boundary Road in Chesterton after a delay because of the coronavirus pandemic. The nightclub and restaurant specializes in Mediterranean cuisine and "the latest drinks with your favorite DJs, karaoke nights, throwback songs and Sunday Tea."

For more information, call 219-250-2267, email chestersvideobar@gmail.com or visit www.chestersvideobar.com.

Reopen

Many businesses have reopened after the stay-at-home orders were relaxed for the coronavirus pandemic, including Sip and Stone in St. John; Leeds Public House in Michigan City; Region Ale in Schererville; The Sweet Tooth in Munster; Sophia's House of Pancakes in Highland and Schererville; Gamba Ristorante in Merrillville; Timbrook Kitchens in Munster; Stray Dog Bar & Grill in New Buffalo; and El Salto locations across Northwest Indiana. Johnson's Farm Produce has reopened for strawberry picking at 8960 E. Ridge Road in Hobart.

For a longer list of open businesses, visit nwi.com/weareopen.

If you would like your business to be included in a future column, email joseph.pete@nwi.com.

If you've got tips about new stores or restaurants anywhere in the Region, or just wonder what's under construction somewhere, contact NWI Business Ins and Outs columnist Joseph S. Pete at joseph.pete@nwi.com or 219.933.3316.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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