From the time when he first opened his family business, Wild Onion Brewery & Pub in Lake Barrington, Mike Kainz and his family members have been scoping the greater Chicago area for a second location, closer to the city. Mike started coming to Downtown Oak Park’s MicroBrew Review as a vendor and he knew right away that Oak Park was the right fit for a second location because of the diversity, the sense of community and the overall energy in Oak Park. His second location, Wild Onion Tied House, 1111 South Boulevard in Oak Park, opened this month.
Wild Onion Tied House takes its name from Prohibition Era watering holes “tied” to their parent breweries; these second locations were called Tied Houses. Kainz and his family chose a property that was once a popular theater, a live venue in 1913 and a film theater in the ensuing decades, a thriving place during Prohibition. Kainz says records show the space hosted 800 people at a time. The building with its stunning skylight was designed by native Oak Park architect E.E. Roberts. Kainz says, “I can almost hear the voices inside the building.”
Tied House currently offers seventeen Wild Onion beers on tap, with more offerings in bottles and cans. The night I was there, I was wowed by the honey truffle burrata appetizer and the blooming salmon entrée as well as the gracious service. Kainz has a live music performance schedule: smaller acts, he says, and often acoustic duos. In addition, he runs a Monday through Friday happy hour with dollar off beers and appetizers. Three TVs will adorn the bar area for game viewing. Additionally, Kainz is planning movie nights: stay tuned. He is optimistic about attracting newer residents to Oak Park such as those living in the Vantage and (soon-to-be-opened) Emerson buildings. He continues to reach out to condo associations and other communities within Oak Park to spread the word about Wild Onion Tied House.
Kainz and his brother started their brewing business two decades ago out of their parents’ garage thanks to early financing through their parents. He comes from a tight-knit family; running this family business has been his life and livelihood for a long time. So far, Oak Park has given Kainz and Wild Onion Tied House a warm welcome. He said, “It’s been a fun process, becoming integrated with the community.” After a long search, Kainz and his family have found the home of their second location—Tied House—in this restored Oak Park theater on South Boulevard, a space where, after a long hiatus, Oak Parkers can once again find libations, entertainment, meals and good cheer.