A new brewpub and three-story apartment building could be coming to Regent Street on the site of Foreign Car Specialists and its parking lot.
Lucky’s Bar and Grille Owner Rod Ripley is proposing the renovation, turning the existing building into a brewpub and banquet hall with a patio and adding a three-story, 26-unit apartment building behind it facing Bowen Court.
“It’s a pretty neat proposal maintaining a lot of the character of that building,” said District 13 Ald. Sara Eskrich.
The proposal is in the early stages with the city but comes after years of work and planning by Ripley, who said he started considering the site after issues with his previous business partners at Lucky’s at 1421 Regent St.
Ripley said he bought out his partners in 2010 because they wanted out of the bar business. Later that year, however, his former partners bought the building as Ripley was also trying to buy it, becoming his landlord.
While Ripley is still the current owner of Lucky's, he said the purchase undermined his whole plan for the place. A friend of his had suggested looking at the 1313 Regent St. site if he couldn’t renew his lease, so after a week licking his wounds, he walked down the street to Foreign Car Specialists and introduced himself to owner Chris Beebe.
Beebe’s response was, “I won’t sell to someone I don’t know,” Ripley said, so Ripley offered to come by once a month and start to get to know him. For the next two years, Ripley stopped down each month to say “hey” and see what was new. He eventually put a deal on paper to buy the property in 2013. The auto shop has now moved to Seybold Road and is run by an employee.
“It has great potential on the inside for a brewpub,” Ripley said, noting three separate bays that will allow for separating the brewing area, pub and banquet hall.
“We love the high ceilings on the inside, the potential to turn it into a sports bar that has an industrial garage feel,” Ripley said.
They have started to look at brewing systems and have tentatively selected long-time homebrewer Peter Schroder as the head brewer. Ripley said they plan to put together a small group and have a tasting at the site in late July.
“I’m highly certain that everyone’s going to love his beer and he’s going to be running our show from a brewing perspective,” Ripley said.
The goal is to open the new brewpub, called Lucky's 1313, in January 2016, with both Lucky’s locations overlapping until the 1421 Regent St. lease is up in August. Ripley said they likely wouldn’t be able to renew that lease, so 1313 Regent St. will become the main Lucky’s.
“Thank god I had enough foresight to have the backup plan, otherwise we would be SOL for a downtown location,” Ripley said.