Ale to the ‘Burbs is a monthly collaborative beer blog series. Five Chicagoland beer blogs…five communities…five suburban beer destinations…all on one day. From the hidden neighborhood gems to the well-known pillars of suburban craft beer, we’ve got the Chicago ‘burbs covered. Links to the other four articles are listed at the bottom of this post. Check back next month for another set of articles.
As the craft beer industry continues to grow, especially in the Chicago area, one Forest Park bar owner has taken advantage and used the opportunity to reinvent his bar.
Matt Mathey, owner of Chalk bar, renamed and redesigned the Madison Street hotspot after it spent many years as Murphy’s Pub.
In addition to a large selection of craft beers, Chalk now features a large upstairs party room, which has a private bar, a stage for live music, a much larger selection of beer and a limited menu to give patrons some food options.
The highlight and namesake for the bar is the chalkboard walls on which patrons can draw and write.
“We just wanted to do something new with the chalkboard concept,” Mathey said. “If you don’t change, it’s just going to go by the wayside.”
Mathey, who worked selling beer for six years, now has his own rep who began bringing him samples of some craft beers, including Chicago-area breweries like 5 Rabbit and Revolution. Chalk has 20 beers on draft and about 160 different beers offered. As he learns more about the variety of beers, he’s educating some customers as well.
“They’re willing to learn. They want to try new things,” Mathey said. “People are loving the selection. Some come in here and start with a few on tap and move their way down the line when they come back. Now I’ve also switched.”
They’ve really done a great job reinventing the place. It’s a relaxed place to grab a beer, but Mathey makes it stand out by making the beer selection so strong. The live music is another draw, and having at least some food options is nice (my mozzarella sticks came in a large mock beer bottle).
One featured beer on draft was the Neapolitan Milk Stout by Saugatuck Brewing in Michigan. Chalk is located at 7414 W. Madison St. in Forest Park. For more information or to see a full beer list, go to Chalk’s website.
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