PLAINFIELD, IL — Plainfield’s whiskey lovers have something to look forward to in 2020. A new whiskey-and-cocktail focused bar – named, appropriately enough, the Next Whiskey Bar – is set to open in the village in early 2020. The bar is owned by Dan Tacone and Ben Devee, two veterans of the service industry. They also co-own the Next-Mex restaurant in Lemont, and a prior Next Whiskey Bar (or NWB, as they also call it) location that has been open in Lisle for about three years. Tacone and Devee said they chose to expand into Plainfield after considering a number of potential sites.
“We reached out to a bunch of towns, and Plainfield got right back in touch with us… [Plainfield Economic Development Manager Jake Melrose] came out and met with us, put us in contact with a couple different realtors, showed us properties that were for rent; what was coming down the pipeline,” Devee said.
“We looked in Elmhurst, we looked in Western Springs; we reached out to La Grange, Clarendon Hills,” Tacone said.
The property they are moving into, at 24205 Lockport St., is the former location of the Sovereign Tap, another popular gastropub that previously faced legal difficulties with investors and the property’s former owners. Sovereign hasn’t gone far, though – it’s moved across the street to 24216 Lockport, merged with the venue space known as The Sanctuary. Patch reached out to one of the co-owners of both Sovereign and The Sanctuary regarding the move, but they chose not to comment. NWB’s owners said they were largely unaware of the situation that preceded their expansion.
“We were unaware [the legal situation], we had no idea at first. It was, to us, their lease was up, they were moving across the street, and the owner was putting the building up for sale. We thought it was a nice easy, ‘alright whatever, we’ll put an offer in on the building and see if we get it,'” Devee said.
“Obviously didn’t turn out to be that easy, but we’re very happy with how it turned out,” Tacone added.
Despite the legal issues, Devee said they hoped to be good neighbors with Sovereign / The Sanctuary, and with other surrounding businesses.
“We just want to be friendly neighbors… we want to mind our own business and do the best we can with our business,” Devee said. “We want to great and we want everyone else in Plainfield to do great.”
Devee said that they plan to open by February, after renovations and new staff training is finished. A few leadership positions – general manager, bar manager – will be filled by staff currently at the NWB’s Lisle location, but the pair also have plans to hire locally.
“We’ll probably have to hire between 15 and 20 front-of-the-house staff members and probably about five kitchen members,” Tacone said. The two added that only applicants aged 21 and over will be considered for server positions.
Initially, the pair said, the Plainfield location will be more or less a direct port of Lisle – Fairly identical menu, whiskey selection, cocktail list, etc. As time goes on, though, Devee said he hopes the Plainfield bar will start to develop its own distinctive elements.
“When we first open, it will be the same,” he said. “But we do a chef’s special taco and a chef’s special burger, and then we also do a seasonal cocktail menu. So at some point I wouldn’t mind if a friendly rivalry started where one location was trying to come up with the coolest, best burger or the coolest cocktail.”
Even if the two locations do develop slightly different menus, though, Tacone said their basic identities will remain roughly the same – inspired by classic rock vibes, more cozy hangout than raucous sports bar, and specializing in cocktails and whiskeys.
And what whiskeys do the Next Whiskey Bar’s owners recommend?
“If I’m going to spend a lot of money, it would be the William Larue Weller [bourbon]… but what I normally drink is 1792 [bourbon],” Devee said.
“An Old Fashioned will always be my go-to… with Angel’s Envy rye,” Tacone said.
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