Open for Business: Old Pabst Brewery gets new life in Peoria Heights

Open For Business

PEORIA HEIGHTS, Ill. (WMBD) — Pabst is making its way back to Peoria Heights. 

Business partners Kip Rodier and Dustin Crawford are making it happen as the owners of The 33 Room recently reopened in Peoria Heights. 

“It gives me an opportunity to meet people who have deep roots here, who have experience with alcohol and how it’s developed and shaped this community,” said Crawford, who also serves as the bar’s cocktail creator.

For some in the community, The 33 Room is familiar. That’s because it’s part of the old Pabst Brewery.

“It’s nice to be able to tell the history of this campus all these years later because I think the younger generation—they know about Pabst, but I don’t think they really know the history of here in Peoria Heights that the beer brewed here went around the world.”

kip rodier

The building has community roots dating back to the late 1940s. That was before bad news came to town in 1981. 

“I believe it was the day before Christmas, the Pabst employees got a letter at home saying the brewery was going to be shut down immediately,” Rodier said, who is also the bar’s historian. “If they were lucky, some of them were transferred down to the grist mill—the former Leisy Brewery, but most them lost their jobs.” 

“We had one of the former employees come in here and we offered him a Pabst and he’s like, ‘I haven’t had a Pabst since I lost my job here.’”

kip rodier

The closure meant people left the village to find other jobs. The tax revenue was then gone, leaving a major financial and emotional impact on the community. Now Rodier and Crawford are hoping that by reopening this piece of history, healing can begin. 

“We think, unfortunately—the bad feelings that happened here, enough time has passed that, hopefully. There were bars here that refused to sell Pabst. I mean, I bet there was probably hardly any Pabst sold in the Peoria area because of all the jobs lost,” Rodier said.

Along with offering plenty of Pabst on tap and unique cocktails at The 33 Room, the two plan on sharing the history of the company in Peoria Heights once a month. 

“For me, it’s very exciting. Like, I love doing new stuff with cocktails and creating some stuff that people haven’t tasted before. But I don’t want to ignore or put aside the past, the classics and what builds the community.”

dustin crawford

Crawford said, “Now, this generation is able to [say] ‘What is this?’ And around here, they can see it as this is our history. This is something that we’re based into.’”

The 33 Room is in the process of getting a liquor license. But the bar is available for private rentals where people can bring their own alcohol in the meantime.

The 33 Room is located at 4541 N. Prospect Rd. #33 in Peoria Heights.

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