After success in Peoria and Champaign, Pour Bros. presents a self-serve bar in downtown Moline
There’s a whole new tasty game in town when it comes to Quad Cities bars.
For Bros. Taproom, at 1209 4and Ave., Moline, recently opened next to the Element Hotel and just a block from the TaxSlayer Center, with a soft opening on New Year’s Eve and a full opening on January 4. Co-owner Rob Mathisen said his first location opened in 2016 in Peoria Heights, Ill., and then Champaign in 2018. (In honor of the trio of bars along I-74, he already has t “Pour on 74” shirts and other merchandise for sale.)
For Bros. — along with partners Nathan Monroe and Jason Fowler — was the first self-service bar to open in Illinois, and there are about 200 such bars across the country, the co-owner said Thursday.
Customers use a debit card or credit card to get a For Bros. Card, which uses RFID technology to scan at each self-serve tap, and customers can deposit any amount they want, in a 1/ 10 oz. Each of the 28 taps is topped with a small tablet that shows what the drink is, where it comes from, its price per ounce (usually 38 cents to 80 cents), the alcohol content, and if you press the button. screen, you can get more detailed information.
“You can taste an ounce at a time,” Mathisen said, noting that your card is charged for everything you drink. “If you tasted everything, you would drink 28 ounces of beer.”
In fact, of the 28 rotating taps, four on the left are wines. Taps range from mead and hard cider, to seltzer and dark, amber, ales, traditional, fruity and sour beers. If you get a full pint from the taps, average prices are $6-$9 a glass.
As soon as a keg is emptied, they put a different beer in a similar style, an average of 1,000 varieties of beer on the tap walls each year, Mathisen said. “It’s a constant rotation of beer,” he said, adding that they always offer about eight beers from Illinois and Iowa at a time, including QC. Currently there are taps from Crawford Brew Works in Bettendorf and Bent River in Moline.
The current dazzling range includes:
- Blueberry Lemony Winks wheat beer (Hills Brewing)
- Hickster Cream Beer (Scorched Earth Brewing)
- Ruthie Blond Lager (Exile Brewing)
- Blood Orange Hard Seltzer (Mighty Swell Spiked Seltzer)
- Fruity beer Hawaii Five Ale (Brasserie DESTIHL)
- Strawberry Cheesecake Mead (Impossible Mead)
- Jingle Java Holiday Stout (Bent River)
The system For Bros. will turn the card off at 60 ounces, and staff can turn it off early if they see a customer consuming too much, Mathisen said. A new card must be obtained at each visit.
“We always have someone here working the wall,” Mathisen said. “They learned, don’t let this get out of control. We’re working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. We understand it’s a privilege to offer this, so we have to be very careful.
“People who drink that beer and spend that money don’t usually drive the race car,” he said. “They taste, they have fun. We very rarely have a problem – the problem is when they come from other places.
Why choose Moline to open?
The Peoria region (formerly the whiskey capital) has very few craft breweries, compared to about 15 in the Quebec region, he said. For Bros. does not brew its own beer, but likes to showcase local, regional and national craft beers, Mathisen said, adding that he also hopes to offer local wines.
For Bros. in Peoria Heights has been very successful, which includes an outdoor music series on warm-weather Saturdays, which averages 800 people, he said. “It’s a huge concert and a huge party, and in Champaign, we’re close to the university, a mile from downtown campus. We have 30,000 cars a day outside our front door, so it works really well.
In Moline, he’s impressed with the downtown bar and restaurant scene. For Bros. hope to have acoustic music inside and in the summer have live music on the lawn outside near the train tracks. Mathisen dreams of the day (like many people in QC) that passenger rail will finally arrive here, with the station next door.
The 38-year-old Peoria native had never worked in bars before, but had a background in sales.
Mathisen chose to expand to Moline because he loves towns steeped in history and especially industrial history, as it is the longtime home of John Deere.
“It was a big thing for me, and when you look at downtown Moline, it has a lot going for it,” he said of the greater QC metro area. “Here you have the TaxSlayer center; we stuck to the hotel. There’s a lot going on. We found this old industrial building. We wanted that; we wanted good bones. We didn’t want a mall somewhere. Moline seems like a good place for us.
The 1920s building is owned by Element Moline (which opened the 95-room hotel in March 2018), Mathisen said. It took about five months for For Bros. to completely renovate the vacant 4,500 square foot space at a cost of $850,000. He credited Davenport-based Bush Construction for the great job, including installing the new plumbing and electrical.
On one wall, the new venture had Peoria artist Devin McGlone paint a large For Bros. logo. (including area codes 309 and 217).
“I love working with craftsmen who care about what they do, as opposed to regular crap,” Mathisen said, noting that he had walls of carpentry around the faucets. McGlone painted a lot in their champagne bar.
No food available yet
The bar has seven staff and they hope to open a limited food service right outside their doors in the hallway, across from the Urban Farmhouse store.
For Bros. has its own restaurant in Peoria, Slow Hand Craft BBQ, on the second floor of this New Orleans-style building (with patios), which opened in 2018.
“I’m not ready to move that yet, because it’s a difficult process – we smoke everything outside every day,” Mathisen said of the barbecue. “If our partnership doesn’t work out with each other, maybe we’ll set up our BBQ shop here.”
At Pour Bros., they offer domestic and craft beer in cans, as well as a full line of spirits for cocktails.
As Mathisen is a history buff, he installed a huge black and white mural near the entrance in an old photo of downtown Moline with the factory and headquarters of John Deere and Moline Plow Company . The Deere buildings were on the current site of the TaxSlayer Center.
Hotel owner Amin Group (which also owns the neighboring Radisson on John Deere Commons) “really took care of us,” he said of the bar’s launch. “They wanted a concept and we did it.”
Serving during COVID is tricky
Opening during COVID has been a challenge for the bar, especially with Omicron’s current spike in cases.
“It’s been really tough on the other sites,” Mathisen said. “I think we are entering this market at the right time. As the virus decreases its strain, the variants become less potent – I think we’re at the right time to come to grips with that, with this new market launch. Bottom line, I hope we’re at the end.
” It’s hard ? Yes,” he added. “Twenty percent of people who would normally come here won’t come here because they’re not going anywhere. There are 20 percent who started right away from the top. We just have to do our job to keep people safe, keep people away, just clean the place up. We are really anal about it.
“We’re known as guys in the market who go the extra mile,” Mathisen said. at For Bros., which eventually hopes to have about 10 locations in Illinois.
“This location is already killing our Peoria and Champaign stores,” he said. “It’s a dry January, it’s COVID. This store is really holding up, dealing with the weather. It feels good. We’re the closest bar to the TaxSlayer, so we’re going to push that.
“We felt like with 10,000 people leaving the TaxSlayer, we were giving people a nice edge to grab a quick drink and taste it,” Mathisen said. “It’s a great concept. I like the story – it’s kind of like the Henry Ford of beer. You can try several at once. This is the assembly line concept.
Their hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 1 a.m. and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m.
“We’re laid back, we’re good people and we have a great environment,” Mathisen said. “Number two, we have plenty of space, so you can spread out here and enjoy a brew. We’ve set up our bar as a kind of brasserie atmosphere, so you can bring in groups.
The bar also offers retro and other board games, like Skee ball and bubble hockey, as well as table bags.
” It’s an experience ; we’re not just a bar,” he said. “We are extremely happy to be here. We have had great support from The Element Hotel, Amin Group, City of Moline.
For more information, visit the Pour Bros. website.