Craft brewery named for social movement opens its doors to Macomb
MACOMB - Its name dates back 40 years ago to a social movement that tried to remind the nation that Western Illinois was being forgotten. Today, the new craft beer brewery Forgottonia Brewing is living in the spirit of that movement as it opens its doors to the public for the first time.
“[The Forgottonia movement] got a lot of attention. It got us Amtrak, highway improvements… So we’re just trying to respect that past and also build upon it.” Said part-owner and brewer Sean West. “The idea is that hopefully this will be a catalyst that brings attention and business back to this region.”
West said that this brewery is the first business he’s ever opened, and it’s been surprisingly easy working with the city to get the craft brewery up and running. West and his partners applied for and won a contest hosted by the Downtown Development office, and the Illinois Small Business Development Center. The contest was similar to the TV show Shark Tank, West said, in which contestants pitch their business model or product to a series of investors, and the winner receives an investment towards their idea. In this case, West won a check for $3,500, which would only be received once the business was opened.
With their particular license, they will only be allowed to dispense beer and hard-cider, and the traditional water and sodas you’d expect from a bar. It even offers board games for its guests, and snacks in lieu of kitchen-cooked food. For food, though, West hopes that food trucks will become a regular provider outside his establishment.
The business is what West wants to call “a third space,” which he says is a place in between work and home – a community space where people can come and talk. The establishment has a bar, less than a dozen tables, and is modestly sized, which West says is to avoid it feeling too much like a warehouse. The building has served as numerous different things in the past, including a record store, an insurance agency, and even a gas station.
When West and his partners secured the property, the previous owners had gutted the building almost entirely. Though renovations have been constant since early 2019, Forgottonia is still finishing construction on its outdoor beer garden, which West said will be complete by 2019’s Heritage Days.
Crowds were filling the brewery from wall to wall on opening night, but West said that’s not unexpected for any new grand opening in Macomb. The real trial, West said, will be the days ahead.
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