After being denied a brewpub permit from the state of Wisconsin and heading down to Chicago in 2015, Justin Aprahamian, chef and owner of Sanford Restaurant, is back and plans to open a brewery and restaurant on the city’s East Side in July.
Aprahamian and his business partner, John Lavelle, learned earlier this year they would be able to work around a state law preventing retail liquor license holders from obtaining a brewery license. Aprahamian holds a liquor license for Sanford.
“We were certainly surprised and obviously overjoyed that this worked out. This is where we wanted to be all along; This is home,” Aprahamian, 32, said Wednesday.
He and Lavelle filed a restaurant and liquor license application with the city of Milwaukee for a 5,000-square-foot space at 823 E. Hamilton St., where Like Minds Brewing will open in early July.
The space will be divided evenly between a brewery and a restaurant, Aprahamian said.
Like Minds will have a seven-barrel system. The plan is to have 10 beers on tap, ranging from IPAs to coffee stouts to Belgian beer. On the food side, Aprahamian, winner of Best Chef Midwest from the James Beard Foundation in 2014, plans on serving a killer butter burger.
“We will also focus on charcuterie and think of ways that play into the beer platform, to bridge the gap between the brewery and the restaurant,” he said. “It will be fun to interplay between the two.”
As far as the Chicago location, the brewery has been up and running in an 8,000-square-foot former Goose Island storage facility on the city’s near northwest side, and Aprahamian plans on keeping it going, but changing the focus a bit.
“Our long-term goal, which is now an opportunity, was to create a smaller second brewery,” he said. “So now we are going to turn that Chicago space into a sour beer program. We’ve made quite an investment down there so we don’t want to throw it all away.”
Aprahamian will also continue his role at Sanford. He lives four blocks from the restaurant and about four blocks from the new brewery.
“People tell me it’s good to do all of this when you’re young and have the energy, but for me it’s about having the right team who shares the vision and the work ethic,” he said.