A well-known bar and restaurant in downtown Elgin will close at the end of April with plans to reopen as a brewery pub in Hoffman Estates.
Iran Garcia and his wife Charlotte opened Dog's Paw Brewing in June 2015 and quickly established a reputation for being friendly and welcoming business owners. But Garcia said business hasn't been strong enough to grow into an actual brewery, his longtime dream. Garcia said he's never been able to pay himself a salary and has continued to work as a construction foreman during the day, working at the restaurant whenever possible while his wife runs the daily business.
"We gave it our effort and we appreciate the customers that have supported us," he said.
The plan is to reopen Dog's Paw Brewing at 2601 Pratum Ave. in Hoffman Estates, an empty building that used to be a fire station and was bought by WT Group, whose headquarters are next door. "It's a great opportunity to do what we always wanted to do," Garcia said.
The firm bought the building from the village of Hoffman Estates earlier this year for $895,000, said Peter Gugliotta, village director of planning, building and code enforcement. A brew pub at the Pratum Avenue location fits perfectly with the village's plan for more entertainment around nearby Sears Centre, Gugliotta said.
WT Group Chief Operating Officer Troy Triphahn said the company plans to expand into the former fire station and leave a portion for the brew pub. Several company employees live in the Elgin area and frequent Dog's Paw, which is how the partnership with Garcia came about, Triphahn said. "We want it to have a suburban-urban feel," he said, "so when you're walking by it's like you're walking down the street in Wrigleyville on Southport Avenue or in the West Loop in Chicago."
WT Group intends to submit plans to the village in the first week of December -- the brew pub will require a special use permit -- and open in late spring or early summer, Triphahn said.
Garcia said he did what he could to stay in Elgin. Dog's Paw cut back on its hours of operation, closing for lunch and then on Sundays and Mondays, which helped increase profits, he said. Still, there isn't enough foot traffic for a thriving business and the increased presence of homeless people downtown has been a deterrent for customers, he said. "The last couple of of years, business has been slowing down," he said. "It is what it is. There's people that have hard times everywhere, and I know the city is trying to do what it can."
Garcia said he looked at other locations in Elgin to expand into a brewery, but they would have required getting substantial loans. A few days ago, he sent an email to some city officials stating he planned to close Dog's Paw's in late April and move to Hoffman Estates, and also inquiring about Porter's Pub, which is owned by the city on the grounds of Bowes Creek Country Club and whose contract is up for renewal. Garcia said he has not received any concrete response to his inquiry. The city council is scheduled to discuss a new contract with Joe Carlucci, Porter's Pub operator, on Wednesday.
"I am just trying to make sure we have the best option possible, and as far as I see it, it's Hoffman Estates," Garcia said.
Elgin Mayor David Kaptain said any time a business leaves, it's a loss for the city. The city has worked to improve downtown and provide services, and ultimately it's up to businesses to succeed.
"I wish (Garcia) good luck," Kaptain said. "If he feels he can be more successful in Hoffman Estates, that's fine."