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Can the Longman & Eagle team find success in Pilsen?

It takes more than a good cook to open a restaurant — although it should have that too. Grid breaks down what it really takes to get the doors open.

Longman & Eagle owners Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden have landed in Pilsen with a punch. The two paired up to renovate the historic Thalia Hall, and on Saturday they opened Dusek’s and Punch House, a beer-focused restaurant and a basement bar.

Building. Golden was approached about Thalia Hall in February, and immediately called Finkelman to check it out. Commissioned in 1890 by local tavern owner John Dusek, the 45,000-square-foot building was designed as a public hall for Pilsen’s large Bohemian population. Finkelman and Golden purchased it in June for $3.2 million.

Thalia Hall was designated a national landmark in 1989, so renovations to the building were mostly cosmetic. “It wasn’t that much that needed to be done with the restaurant and bar … just getting rid of some of the stuff that maybe wasn’t done so well,” Finkelman says.

The move to Pilsen is a good one, says Jarrett Fradin, a broker and consultant with commercial real estate company Kudan Group, adding that the neighborhood’s becoming a “go-to” for restaurants. “Over the last 18 months there have been several inquiries into empty spaces, empty buildings,” Fradin says.

A Pilsen address may have been helpful in keeping down the overall cost of the project, Fradin says. “The lease rates are probably a little bit more [affordable], people can get open and operating at a lower cost in that area.”

The building also includes an event hall, which is set to open by the end of the year, three storefront spaces and eight apartments. One storefront has been rented to furniture company Modern Cooperative, the second to Belli’s, a grocery that will sell locally produced products. “And then the third space, we’re going to do something kind of fun with that we’re not ready to talk about yet,” Finkelman adds.

Eat. The first floor houses Dusek’s, which Finkelman calls a modern beer tavern, with an extensive beer list and beer-inspired cocktails. Longman & Eagle executive chef Jared Wentworth created a menu to pair with the beers. “We’ve tried to make it as affordable as we can for the neighborhood and trying to keep things as close to under $20 or under $15 is really important to us,” Finkelman says. Separated into sections — “by sea” and “by land and air” — the menu features items like crispy pig tails, boneless duck wings and a lobster roll.

Fradin adds being associated with a name like Longman & Eagle will make it even easier to break into the up and coming area. “When an anchor like that sets down, you’re going to find people soon to follow,” he says.

Drink. Basement bar The Punch House has a ’60s and ’70s retro vibe and a menu of six or seven classic punch drinks for $8 a glass, plus punch-inspired cocktails. The bar won’t offer dinner service, but will have a bar snack menu also designed by Wentworth.

ABOVE: Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden (l to r). Photo by Heath Sharp