UPDATE: Fischman’s in Jeff Park to close, hosted local events
by BRIAN NADIG
Fischman Liquors and Tavern, a popular destination in Jefferson Park for 80 years, is scheduled to close its doors in mid-July, according to operators Shanna and Gus Karamaniolas.
It is one of five stores which immigrant Jonas Fischman and his sons opened on the Northwest Side starting in 1915, and several had a large rectangular bar, including one with 65 stools in Jefferson Park, Gus Karamaniolas said. Fischman’s daughter Jewel and her husband David opened the Abt electronics store in Logan Square in 1936.
In recent years Fischman’s, 4774-80 N. Milwaukee Ave., has become known for offering a wide selection of craft beers, attracting food trucks for its bar patrons and hosting community fund-raisers and other events, including meetings and farmers’ markets.
“We weren’t just a another liquor store. We wanted to give back to the community,” Karamaniolas said. “We became a staple on the Northwest Side.” Gus’ father Pete purchased the business about 20 years ago.
A reported dispute with a family member who owns the building and who lives in Greece led to the decision to close the bar. Rent for the 3,600-square-foot retail space and bar is $25 per-square-foot, significantly higher than the area’s average of $10-$15 for independent retailers, Karamaniolas said.
Karamaniolas said that he had been paying the $25 per-square-foot for 3 years and that he had hoped to renegotiate for $18. He said that he will maintain the liquor licenses for the site but that the rent and the cost of maintaining the building would make it difficult for anyone to reopen a bar there.
Plans had once called for the opening of a restaurant and a beer garden at Fischman’s. “The dream we had for this place, what we wanted to do, what we wanted it to be … that dream has died,” Karamaniolas said in a statement on the store’s Web site.
“Although the dream may have died, let it be known it did not die without a fight. Constant battles with lawyers, lawsuits, family and even taking on expensive repairs to the building to keep the business open, ultimately led to the decision to close.
“Closing a business because it is failing is one thing. Closing a business that has grown into an established success, due to an ongoing battle with family, makes this that much harder,” the statement said.
The statement left open the possibility that Shanna and Gus Karamaniolas may seek to re-open a new establishment. “The memories created here are memories that will live on forever. The friendships created here are friendships we hope will continue for years to come,” the statement said.
(Photo by Sean Keenehan)