DU QUOIN -- A historic Du Quoin building will soon reopen as a brew pub.

The St. Nicholas Brewing Company is in the final stages of an extensive renovation to an 1879 building that once housed the St. Nicholas Hotel. The renovation was previously reported to be in the $1 million range.

"The cool thing about St. Nicholas is everybody has a story about it, and so we're excited to hear stories from people about how they used to come here," Abby Ancell, general manager, said.

No definite timetable has been set for the brew pub's opening, but Ancell said early August is a target date. Finishing touches are being completed to the kitchen and dining area, but the brewery is completely done.

"Our brewer brewed his first batch of beer last weekend," Ancell said.

The renovations rescued the historic nature of the building, which had been in danger of being torn down.

The brew pubs' lights and tasting glasses are salvaged relics from the hotel, and the tables and bar were constructed out of wood from the lanes of the old Ten Pin Alley in Du Quoin.

"I would say it's a rustic feel," Ancell said. "We tried to take old things from Du Quoin, the St. Nick and the surrounding area."

Walking into the building, patrons will see to their right beer being brewed and to their left the dining room and bar, which will feature beer, liquor and local wines.

"We also have a large patio in the back, which will be really nice in the summer," Ancell said.

The inspiration for the brew pub was birthed on a bike ride among a group of friends.

"We wanted to restore the building, bring business back to Du Quoin and give people a place to eat good food and drink good beer," Ancell said.

Ancell rejected the characterization of the St. Nicholas Brewing Company as either a fine dining restaurant or a party place, suggesting it is a place all Southern Illinoisans will be able to enjoy.

"I think it will be a place you can go out on a date, go out with friends or go out with family," Ancell said. "It will be upscale pub food."

The pub and brewery's location, just off Main Street and across the street from the railroad tracks, offers the potential to provide a safe dining and drinking experience for patrons from communities outside Du Quoin.

"It's important for us that people don't drink and drive from Carbondale or surrounding towns," Ancell said. "So we mulled around the idea to have a special if you bring in a train ticket, especially college students who want to get on the train."

The project has special meaning for Ancell as a resident of Du Quoin.

"I grew up in Du Quoin. I've lived here most of my life," Ancell said. "I know it's hard to find places to go out in the area. So, I think it's going to be nice to bring something different to the area.

"I think people -- young and old -- will appreciate it. It's not a party scene, it's not super expensive. It's a place for everyone."


Chris Hottensen is the entertainment and features reporter for The Southern Illinoisan.

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