Prairie Street Brewery to Open New ‘Owly Oop Sports Pub’


Rockford, Illinois — Prairie Street Brewing Co., which recently unveiled a new peacock-bedecked brand identity, is proud to announce an all-new venture – Owly Oop Sports Pub – featuring another creative, feathery logo.

Owly Oop Sports Pub will open soon at the new 108,000 sq ft UW Health Sports Factory in the growing Madison Street corridor of downtown Rockford. UW Health Sports Factory is managed by the Rockford Park District. Owly Oop will operate in just not one, but two locations inside building: upstairs in a 2,700 sq ft restaurant/pub overlooking the Rock River and in a smaller concession stand downstairs at court level.

“We could not be happier partnering with Prairie Street Brewing Co at the UW Health Sports Factory,” said Jay Sandine, assistant executive director of the Rockford Park District. “Their outstanding quality and reputation will no doubt take downtown Rockford and our facility to the next level. The thousands of residents and visitors to the UW Health Sports Factory will truly have a one-of-a-kind experience when they dine and overlook our beautiful Rock River at Owly Oop Sports Pub.”


“It’s great that the restaurant that will serve the new UW Health Sports Factory will be run by our friends from Prairie Street,” said Lawrence J Morrissey, mayor of the City of Rockford. “They have an outstanding reputation for quality and professionalism that will complement our spectacular new sports venue. Prairie Street has set the standard for riverfront dining in Rockford. Both locals and visitors will be impressed with Owly Oop, another great riverfront venue from the Prairie Street team.”

“We’ve partnered with the Rockford Park District for a few years now doing off-site catering at Nicholas Conservatory, Sinnissippi Bandshell, Midway Village and on the Forest City Queen riverboat. And of course, we’ve been proud to participate in City Market, as well.” said Chris Manuel, co-owner of Prairie St Brewing Co and Owly Oop. “So, when the Park District released a RFP last year for concession operations at the Sports Factory, we jumped on it.”

“My partners and I are huge believers in Rockford, downtown and Madison Street, especially,” he said. “There’s a lot of buzz around town about the area and that’s very gratifying to those of us who have been investing here for quite some time now.”

“As for the menu, I’d describe it as healthy, upscale pub food,” said Reed Sjostrom, co-owner. “Just like at Prairie Street Brewing Co, we’ll serve food made of fresh, local ingredients using from-scratch recipes. Whether you’re a father, son, mother or daughter, we want you to go home happy and feel like you’ve received good value and friendly service. We want to make Owly Oop a seamless, treasured part of the Sports Factory experience.”

“And, it’s not just a place to visit before or after a game on the Sports Factory courts,” he continued. “Owly Oop will have the largest television screen in Rockford – a 12-foot monster – and several other big-screen TV’s for viewing broadcast sports, too. People can come anytime and get away from it all.”


Will Prairie Street Brewing Co’s craft brews be available at Owly Oop?

“Yes! Not only will we serve Prairie Street’s freshly crafted beer on tap (brought over in kegs) but, we’ll also be nano-brewing beer on-site,” said Dustin Koch, the third of three co-owners. “Nano brewing is like taking micro brewing to a super micro level. We may even use Owly Oop’s nano operation as a test platform for new flavors to brew in larger quantities at Prairie Street Brewing Co.”

What else is truly unique about Owly Oop Sports Pub?

“Owly Oop is a cool concept, created by a cool company in a very cool new building in a quickly developing part of Rockford,” said Joshua Albrecht, marketing director of the Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Athletes, spectators and other patrons are really going to enjoy the family friendly vibe they’re planning. The scenic view from the restaurant’s deck overlooking the river – that alone is worth a visit.”

The west side of Owly Oop features an expansive view of the Rock River, Fordham Dam, Davis Park, BMO Harris Bank Center and in the future, the Embassy Suites hotel project in the old Amerock building through a large bank of garage doors and on an exterior deck. It also provides a commanding view of all the playing courts from high above to the north and south.

“Owly Oop?” What’s the deal with the name?

“The name is taken from the good old ‘alley oop’ pass in basketball, which is teamwork in motion. We learned a long time ago that making any restaurant successful requires everyone to be in synch. Plus, ‘Owly Ooo’ has the added advantage of being memorable and fun to say,” said Dustin Koch with a smile.

“The owl graphic itself was originally developed by our branding partners during the process of making the new identity for Prairie Street Brewing Co last winter. We all loved the owl, but the peacock fit Prairie Street perfectly because a gentleman named Jonathan Peacock first crafted beer there back in 1849. So, I guess you could say the owl’s been sitting on the bench for a few months and now it’s his turn to shine,” laughed Sjostrom.

670 The Score (WSCR) to be on hand doing a live radio remote Saturday, June 4

Chicago radio personalities Rosenbloom and Schuster will be live at UW Health Sports Factory and Owly Oop Sports Pub Saturday, June 4 from 10:00a.m. ’til 12:30p.m. The public is invited to attend.


Prairie Street Brewing Company is housed in the oldest brewery building in the state of Illinois. There were older ones, but they all burned down in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Jonathan Peacock, who built the building, immigrated from Markingham, England to Chicago, IL in 1847 where he found employment with Diversey & Lil Brewery. Wanting more out of life, he purchased a small Greek revival home at 200 Prairie Street alongside the Rock River in nearby Rockford, Illinois in 1849 and founded his own brewery: Peacock Brewery. He invested $200 in the purchase of the home. There, in the early days of Peacock Brewery, he ground malt in a hand-milled coffee grinder, brewed mash in a washtub and delivered his brew to fellow Rockfordians in a wheelbarrow.

Peacock’s limestone home still stands at the intersection of Prairie Street and Madison on the southeast corner of the PSB property.

The Englishman’s success wasn’t immediate, but business was good. In1857, Peacock built a brewhouse/bottling plant on the two acre site behind his home. Thanks to an on-site artesian well, he had access to good, fresh water – and the Rock River provided ice for many months of the year in those days. On the east side of his property ran the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad for easy distribution. In 1860, Peacock brewed a hit: a lager he called Nikolob, “The Beer That Made Milwaukee Jealous.” Legend has it that’s where the idea for Michelob originated.

Peacock passed away in 1896 at the then ripe old age of 75. His sons, Edwin and Frank, took over the brewery’s operations. In 1899, the brothers’ passed away and the brewery was operated by Frank’s widow for a brief time. In 1900, Peacock Brewing Company was sold to a Croatian immigrant named John V. Petritz, who re-named it Rockford Brewing Company. By 1909, Petritz brewed nearly 75,000 barrels of beer annually.

In 1919, Petritz and two business partners tried to circumvent the new US Prohibition ban on alcoholic beverages. The Feds found out and the brewery was soon converted to Rockford Storage Warehouse.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933 and Petritz reenergized his brewery until 1934 when it again changed hands. It was purchased by John Fox, who operated the company as Rock River Brewing Company. In 1945, the Stormont family purchased it and converted it once again to a storage and warehouse business.

In 1999, Loyd and Diane Koch purchased the building and began to design and convert an expansive mixed use development. The purchase was made by the couple in part due to the many years they had spent boating and enjoying the Rock River.

“We love Rockford and we love the Rock River,” said Loyd Koch. “We always admired the old brewery building and thought it could – and should – be a destination for boaters as well as people who want to experience the river from land. For too long, too much of the land along the river has been devoted to industrial sites. Diane and I wanted to create positive access to the River, and we hope others will be inspired to do the same thing.”


In 2014, the brewery hand-crafted 23,300 gallons of beer, headed toward a 33,600 gallon total in 2015.

In 2015, 150,000 retail customers were served in the brewery’s many event spaces, the brewpub dining room, Dockside Taproom downstairs and the “out on the docks” outdoor seating venue.

Many more customers were served offsite as the company continued to expand its reach via catering services and at special events where they pitched their tents and poured many thousands more pints for thirsty fans.

All those performance indicators are expected to be exceeded dramatically in 2016.