Old Hotel Getting Second Life as New Brewery

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

PERRY COUNTY -- Renovation of a historic building in downtown Du Quoin is moving forward. Several years ago, the St. Nicholas Hotel was empty and in danger of being torn down. A local group now plans to reopen it as a brewery and restaurant.

Members of the company board are all into bike riding, but several people also have years of experience at southern Illinois wineries. They hope that knowledge will help them join the fast growing industry.
 
"You know my first thought was this is crazy," said Brewery President Ted Wichmann. 
 
Wichmann and a friend weren't sure at first what they would do with the vacant Du Quoin building.
 
"He bought it at auction from the city for $700," sadi Wichmann. 
 
After investing hundreds of thousand of dollars and more than a year of work, the space is leaving behind its past as an historic railroad hotel for a future as the St. Nicholas Brewing Company. 
 
"I saw what it looked like before anything was done," said Wichmann. "I mean it was overwhelming."
     
Rooms have been cleared out, windows have been installed, and the ceilings have been reinforced.
 
That's allowed the company and contractor Gary Sullivan to start moving in decorative touches and a few pieces of the beer making equipment.
 
This July, they hope to welcome the first customers. Craft beer is an industry that's becoming more and more popular in the U.S. and southern Illinois.
 
The goal is to have four beers ready at opening and have their new brewmaster expand from there. Other plans include turning the upper floors into an event space for parties and weddings.
 
"It's also kind of an entertainment business," said Wichmann. "You want people to come here to have a unique experience."
 
Wichmann says many people have stopped by to tell them how glad they are that someone is fixing up the old hotel. 
 
The company is also getting a little help from the city. A $200,000 dollar TIF agreement was approved in February.
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