The former Forest Park Tap Room bar may soon become home to a new music venue.
Oak Park native and musical booking agent Donnie Biggins is applying for a conditional use permit to open a music performance venue in a space that has been vacant since the village shut down Tap Room in August 2022.
Biggins is no stranger to either Forest Park or music venues. He is a booking agent for Exit Strategy on Madison Street, and he spent years working at FitzGerald’s night club, eventually working his way up to music booker. Biggins also owns the Harmonica Dunn music production company. For the past two years, he organized the Food Aid Festival, a music festival that raises money to combat food insecurity.
The Tap Room’s building itself is up for sale, and according to Cook County records, the building is still owned by former village commissioner Mark Hosty. Biggins will be leasing the space.
Biggins told the Review that he saw it as both a music venue and a community space, a place where nonprofit organizations could host fundraisers and families could hold private events.
The musical acts, Biggins said, will be a mix of national touring acts and regional talent.
“My vision is to bring a high-end, live music performance venue and community space to the Village of Forest Park,” he said. “Though we will be primarily a live music venue, we will also serve as a welcoming neighborhood bar.”
Biggins said that the venue “will feature handmade cocktails, craft beers and premiere non-alcoholic drinks to provide all patrons with the freedom of choice to maximize their experience.”
“I look forward to bringing my 15-plus years of community programming experience to Forest Park,” he added.
This is only the second time anyone has tried to apply for an entertainment venue conditional use permit in Forest Park. Until last August, any performance venues that weren’t a theater of some kind weren’t allowed at the Madison Street corridor at all. On Aug. 14, the village council changed the zoning code to allow them as conditional use, which means that the village reviews any request to open entertainment venues on a case-by-case basis.
The notice also said Biggins’ application will go before the Forest Park Planning & Zoning Commission, which meets at the Forest Park Village Hall, on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. The commission’s decisions are advisory – it will be up to the village council to make the final decision.
While the building at the intersection of Madison and Circle still has tenants, including Butter & Brown Bistro restaurant and the ICOMM IT consulting firm, the Tap Room space is by far the biggest and the most publicly visible. Before Tap Room, it housed Healy’s West Side, a restaurant and bar, which Hosty managed. Hosty now lives in River Forest.
While it was open, Forest Park Tap Room faced multiple complaints about loud music, fights and violating COVID-19 mitigation limits in place at the time. When its liquor license came up for renewal, mayor Rory Hoskins, who serves as the village’s liquor commissioner, moved to revoke it. Tap Room appealed, and Hoskins eventually ruled against the bar.
Afterward, Hosty spent months trying to rent the space out. According to the Cook County Treasurer records, in late June, he got a mortgage from Hinsdale Bank and Trust, a subsidiary of Wintrust Community Bank.
Andy Sokol, the sales agent for the property, previously told the Review this summer that he believes that the building has plenty going for it.
“You don’t find many 23,000 square foot buildings in Forest Park,” he said. “If Forest Park continues to hopefully grow, business will come back and creative people would want to put spaces in there, because it’s a beautiful space, it’s a cool loft-looking space. The basement has high ceilings. [The building] is a tank. It’s a super-strong, well-kept building, and someone will take it.”