The entrepreneur behind Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room is again investing in downtown Leesburg.
John Sokol is opening a nonprofit club complete with a bar, live music and a food truck to benefit military, veterans, firefighter and police organizations.
His goal is to have the Military Fire Police Support Association open by the time Bikefest rolls around in late April.
Sokol bought the 3,400-square-foot building, located at 312 South 2nd Street, last year. The structure started as a furniture warehouse but was most recently a sheet metal shop. Plans for the building feature a bar, a stage and a DJ booth. Four wooden roll-up doors will open onto covered decks. It’ll also be home to “Fryer Station 312,” a food truck with big burgers, chicken and fish.
His vision was approved by the city’s Planning and Zoning Board and will go to the City Commission for final approval. For now, Sokol is cleaning up the building and fine-tuning his plans.
“It doesn’t look like much now,” he said, gesturing to the unfinished building inside. “But use your imagination and I think you’ll see this could be one heck of a place, and that’s our hopes.”
When Sokol gets the go-ahead from the City Commission, he’ll be looking for some skilled laborers to donate their time and talents.
“I’m reaching out to the community to help with this project, he said. “We are looking for electricians and tradesmen and people that will help us to at least get open.”
Sokol is also looking for musicians for Bikefest who may be willing to play for free or at a reduced rate.
The club will be open to the public, but he’s selling $100 lifetime memberships that have some perks. Among the benefits: members always get their first drink free in a personalized glass, an MFPSA T-shirt, access to members-only events and merchandise and food discounts.
At the end of every month after covering his expenses, Sokol will cut a check to a military, police, veteran or first responder support organization.
And he wants community input, too, he said. If there’s an organization his patrons want him to donate to, “I’m open to ideas,” Sokol said.
When he initially came to Leesburg from Illinois, Sokol wasn’t looking to start a business. But he said he fell in love with the city.
He opened Chicago Fire in August 2016 and has since hosted a variety of fundraisers, including the annual “Bikes & BBQ 4 Autism,” in partnership with Gator Harley Davidson. The past two years have brought in $6,500 for local autism support organizations. The third-annual event is set for April 13.
Whether he’s working on a fundraiser, on his new venture or at Chicago Fire, Sokol said he keeps in mind a story about a well.
His grandfather took his mother to a well in the back yard for some water. She pumped the well a few times, but nothing came out. Finally, his grandfather poured water on it, priming it.
“The moral to the story as my grandfather put it: You can’t expect to get something out of something unless you put something in it,” he said.
Source: Daily Commercial Local Entertainment - Florida Real Estate Photography Blog - DeVore Design offers real estate photography, aerial photography and real estate videos from in Daytona Beach, Orlando, Lakeland and Tampa. We encourage you to share our content!