1st in the world: Tapster coming to Wicker Park


Soon to be the home of Tapster

A new tasting experience will be the first of its kind in the world when Tapster opens at 2027 W. North Ave., Wicker Park, in January 2017. 

A self-serve destination for beverages and food, Tapster will be the first in the world to include self-serve cocktails from a tap. In addition to 12 cocktails, there will be 32 beers, 8 wines, 4 mocktails and 4 kombucha teas as well as cold brew and nitro coffee. 

In terms of glass sizes, customers may choose from a flight size of 3 ounces to 16-ounce beer glass. Mugs will be a standard size. However, customers determine how much they are pouring into the containers, though an establishment employee will be at each tap to insure that there are no consumption violations for age and sobriety. 


The taps will be along the east wall at the front where the blue tape is located

This concept is a customer pleaser. By being able to just take a "taste" of a beverage or food item, customers can experience the adventure of trying something new and not worry about the impact of a bad choice on their wallet.

To keep selections fun and pleasing for customers, owners Roman Maliszewski and Sean Slevin say that they will periodically change out some of the "flavors" in each type of beverage. 

"We want our customers to help determine what we offer," said Maliszewski. "And, we don't want them to be bored," said Slevin. 

Deconstructed sandwiches is the second half of the faire in this new food and beverage establishment. 

With hours from 9 a.m. to midnight during the week and a weekend closing of 2 a.m., morning service will be espresso, latte and drip coffee as well as pastries. 

Paying at the site will primarily be by a RFID* (radio frequency identification) card fueled by a credit card or cash. Though morning coffee drinkers with or without a pastry selection will be able to "cash and carry." 

Using the card at each tap, a customer can see how much money they have on the card and, in the case of beverages, how much they are pouring. 


The deli and seating are in the back half of the space

Food faire
"Deconstructed sandwiches?" you may ask. 

A deli counter will be stocked with a variety of meats and cheeses as well as vegetarian and vegan offerings. Customers can order from a selection of 15 to 30 different items and then "construct" their own sandwiches! 

Garnishes will include homemade mustard and jams, hummus and olives. An onsite popcorn maker will have a gourmet flavor each week too. 

"We want this to be a great place where people can come, be able to try small samplings or full portions of food and drink," said Slevin. "Then enjoy the dining experience by themselves or with a group of friends in an environment where they are not struggling to hear or be heard." 

Free wifi will make it a great place to honker down for hours. A couple of handcrafted leather seated swings may be very appealing to some and blend-in well with the exposed brick walls and wooden floors. The skylight in the deli and seating area will give an outdoor feel even when it is a frigid Chicago day.

"Aside from being a comfortable conversation-friendly location, we will also be an educational environment," explains Maliszewski. "There will be interactive learning at each tap in the form of a computer screen. In the case of beer, customers can learn where it comes from, the type as well as a flavor profile. Wall murals will be educational as well and will rotate. 

Classes will add a participatory element to their educational goals. They will be for such subjects as: wine pairings, beer pairings and food preparation. 


A sizable basement will provide storage and office space

With an occupancy of 70, the staff will consist of a total of 30 employees who rotate. 

A concierge will be set up people with their RFID card. Other staff members will be on hand to ok purchases at the taps. 

Expect to see a lot of  Maliszewski, who will be full time at the site. 


Roman Malinzewski and Sean Slevin in the back part of the space with their backs to the front of the buisness

The Partners
Serendipity was clearly part of the life journeys for each of the partners. Their meeting turned out to be a family affair. 

Maliszewski, prounced mollychefski, grew up in Hinsdale but went to high school on the south side. After college, he went to San Francisco for about 10 years where he was steeped in digital marketing and advertising. 

Burned out, he took a year to travel the world. An artist and musician, he had an idea and began formulating a plan to open a bar. He had seen a place in Chicago where people could pour their own beer at a table but thought that that would be way cooler if it could be done with more beverage selections on a wall. 

Research led him to Josh Goodman, PourMyBeer, who said not only could they do what he was thinking of but their plan included adding cocktails on tap. He invited Maliszewski to do sales with him as he worked on starting his own business. 

"Josh is a fantastic guy and traveling around the world, working with him has been an amazing journey over the last year and a half," Maliszewski says. "It is so exciting to find what you love to do and then do it." 

Now a resident in the East Village/Noble Square area, he was sitting in a bar one night and started talking to another guy who was a south side Irishman of immigrant parents. After Maliszewski told him about his plans for a bar, he said his brother was looking to do the same thing on the south side. 

A week later Maliszewski and Slevin met and shortly thereafter the partnership began.

Slevin is a dad of three and lives on the south side, where he grew up. 

"I've been in the service industry my whole life even though my degree was as a high school teacher with an emphasis in economics." 

While waiting for a teaching job, Slevin got into the service business. 

For the last year they have been scouring the city to find the right place to do something different. They love Wicker Park, which they call "cool and dynamic," and they wanted to bring something new to the scene. Neither wanted a sports bar.   

With the pillars of their business being community, education and entertainment, they seem to not only have an exciting new approach to food and drink but they are community oriented. 

*The RFID card is required for all liquor sales because a person must check the purchaser regarding age and sobriety before allowing the pour.



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