Hulking baseball Hall of Famer Frank Thomas stepped to the plate for his first at-bat in the restaurant game Thursday, unveiling plans for the Big Hurt Brewhouse in Berwyn.
Situated in the old American State Bank building in the 6800 block of Cermak Road, the restaurant will feature an upscale sports bar aesthetic without high prices, the former White Sox star said.
Thomas, standing in a newly built addition to the building, said he hopes to have the brewhouse open for business within a month or so.
Berwyn is "the core" for Chicago fan bases, Thomas said.
While he has been approached to lend his name to similar endeavors in the past, Thomas said he always wanted to be hands-on.
"This is my business, I will be here," Thomas said. "You guys will be seeing me a lot around this area."
Thomas said he chose Berwyn as opposed to a downtown Chicago location because that area already has a good share of athlete restaurants.
"Why not do something different?" he said. "It's perfect for me."
Aside from standard sports bar fare including burgers, barbecue and other items, the brewhouse will feature five varieties of Thomas' Big Hurt Beer on tap, along with craft beers and "fine domestics," Thomas said.
Thomas is in the midst of expanding his beer line from three to five offerings and said he can "easily" drain a six pack of his namesake brew.
The restaurant will be a "brewhouse" in name only. Thomas' line of beers is brewed elsewhere in the Chicago area.
Berwyn officials said the historic bank building has been vacant for at least 20 years. The building was erected in 1925 and still features an old-school bank vault.
A condo deal was in the works at one point before the market crashed, according to officials.
The city sold Thomas and his partners the building and an adjacent parcel for about $200,000, according to Anthony Griffin, executive director of Berwyn Development Corp.
A bulldozer dumped a pile of dirt so that Thomas and other officials could do a ceremonial shoveling Thursday morning — even though the building is nearly ready for customers. Thomas said the event was originally slated for Wednesday but was pushed back a day to allow the Jackie Robinson West Little League team to shine on the day of its triumphant parade.
"I'm looking forward to having them out here," he said.