While the weather outside was dreary, spirits were high last Friday evening as Homewood Village President Richard Hofeld and several other village officials gathered for the ribbon cutting of Homewood’s new craft beer and wine store: Grape & Grain Co. The new shop, located at 18031 Dixie Highway, opened on Labor Day.
Grape & Grain Co. is anything but your average liquor store. And don’t let the bar fool you. This isn’t a place you go to drown your sorrows in pint after pint of domestic suds. As owner Ron Khalaf promised in a Patch article months ago during the planning stages of Grape & Grain “It’s … a classy place.”
The clean, modern sign on front of the building just north of Ridge on Dixie Highway gives a preview of what customers are to find on the inside. Shelf after shelf is lined with neat bottles of wine and beer. The dimly lit interior offers an intimate setting while patrons browse the impressive selection of anything but the ordinary beverages so many have become accustomed to. Even better, the granite tasting bar inside allows you to sample your beverages before committing to a purchase.
“It makes a huge difference (to sample),” Khalaf said of the bar. “Our customers are loyal because we give them a good product.”
The quality of service was not lost on East Hazel Crest patron Mark Peers. He and his wife, Homewood native Kathy Peers were both impressed with the new Homewood business.
“It’s in the details,” Peers said. “I like it. It’s open, it’s friendly. The bathrooms are clean. You can sit down and have a drink or you can go home and enjoy it. You don’t feel crowded.”
Khalaf, owner of Vino e Birra in La Grange and former owner of now closed Barley & Hops in Glenwood, said he was confident in opening Grape & Grain Co. in Homewood because there are so many “beer geeks” in town.
“Most of my customers (from my previous brewing store location in Glenwood)—90 percent of them are from Homewood,” Khalaf said.
While he might not refer to himself as a "beer geek," Homewood's Greg James appreciates a fine brew. He says Grape & Grain Co. comes as a “tasteful” and “exciting” addition to the local business community. It also affords him the ability to pursue his passion for brewing far more conveniently than before.
“It’s an opportunity for beer enthusiasts to lean,” James said. “I think it’s a beautiful spot. I think they put some time and energy into the layout. It says, ‘welcome.’”
Grape & Grain Co. is offering free wine and beer tastings every Saturday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Beer and wine making classes will also be offered once to twice per month. Store hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.