Conn’s Hospitality Group will open 7th Street Cidery, the first craft cidery in central Illinois, on Friday, Oct. 14.
The building at 503 S. Seventh St. most recently housed Wm. Van’s Coffee House, which closed in April. At the time, Karen Conn, owner and CEO of Conn’s Hospitality Group, told SBJ that relocating Wm. Van’s would allow the Conn family to “focus our efforts on our desire to bring more ciders and meads to the city.” The adjacent restaurant, Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery, serves a variety of craft beers brewed on-site, plus Stiffy’s Hard Cider, produced through an affiliate company.
7th Street Cidery will have 20 taps focusing on unique, regional ciders, meads and perrys from Illinois and surrounding states, plus craft cider cocktails, wines and spirits. Eventually, the Conns hope to be able to produce ciders and meads using fruit grown from their own orchard.
In 2018, Court and Karen Conn purchased the historic Gillett mansion in Elkhart and renamed the property Elkhart Farm Hill & Vineyard. Conn said, “We’ve planted our own orchard up on the hill: Apples, pears, peaches, cherries. Hopefully within the next two years we’ll start to get product.”
The 7th Street Cidery will operate Monday through Thursday from 4-11 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Conn said, “Once we get the Cidery open – after long delays – we are going to focus on Vinegar Hill Mall and the business renovations there.” She confirmed to SBJ that Wm. Van’s Coffee House will eventually reopen in the Vinegar Hill Complex.
In October 2021, Conn’s Hospitality Group purchased the Vinegar Hill Mall, the Baur’s Building and the Dewitt Wickliffe Smith Mansion located on Cook Street between Second Street and Spring Street. The nearly three-acre site is just south of the Capitol complex. Conn’s Hospitality Group has moved its headquarters into the mansion and initial efforts have focused on cleaning up the site, which has largely been vacant for years.