Jimmybread loan voided; Chain O’Lakes Brewing Co. to stay in McHenry

McHENRY – Weeks after the McHenry City Council approved a $55,000 revolving loan for a new business venture that planned to sell artisan bread and beer, the deal fell apart and the city has rescinded the loan.

At a meeting March 20, the City Council approved a revolving business loan submitted by Jimmybread LLC, doing business as Jimmybread & Brew, in the amount of $55,000. According to the March 20 agenda, the company was planning to use the money to open at 3425 Pearl St., the location of Chain O’ Lakes Brewing Co.

Before the meeting, Chain O’ Lakes Brewing Co. owner Curt Ames talked to Jimmybread owner Jim Bellavia – who sells artisan bread at farmers markets and requested the loan – about the possibility of Bellavia buying the brewery from Ames.

“At one point, [Jim] told me he’d like to get into a building in McHenry … so I said, ‘When you’re ready to bring money to the table, we’ll talk,’ ” Ames said.

However, after the loan was approved, Ames and Bellavia talked again, and the deal ultimately was abandoned.

“We just couldn’t agree,” Bellavia said. “It was more on my end. It wasn’t necessarily on Curt’s end. I was looking at several properties. And Chain O’ Lakes was going to be the best place, and that’s really all there was to it. There were three places I was looking at, and that was one of them.”

Doug Martin, director of economic development in McHenry, said the loan now is “null and void” since Bellavia won’t be buying the building listed in the meeting agenda.

After people got word the brewery possibly would be sold, Ames said his B.E.E.R. (Brewery Enlightened Erudite Revivalists) Club members were worried the microbrewery was closing and the bonds, relationship and craft beers would disappear.

Ames said he wants to assure people his brewery is staying, and it still will host its annual “I’m Bock” and Breakfast release party Saturday.

“Bottom line is Chain O’ Lakes Brewing is continuing to operate,” Ames said. “ … We’re going to be on-site for the foreseeable future.”

After buying the building in 2012, Chain O’ Lakes opened to the public July 20, 2013, and will celebrate its fourth year in business this year. The microbrewery, which formerly was occupied by McHenry Brewing Co., features a tap room, beer garden and participates in several events throughout the summer.

“We try and uphold that British pub atmosphere,” Ames said. “We’re family-friendly, preserve the history of the building and do tribute to those who are serving in the military.”

As for Bellavia and his business venture, the McHenry resident said he’s thankful the loan initially was considered, and his future plans still include attending the McHenry Farmers Market and looking for future venues to house Jimmybread & Brew, which would sell beer and artisan bread.

“This doesn’t mean Jimmybread is dead or anything,” Bellavia said. “I’m always open to possibilities, and for every door that closes, there’s another one open.”

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