Rockford’s iconic Prairie Street Brewing Company is opening a new sports pub later this summer. Discover the co-owners’ plan to make Owly Oop Sports Pub the new local hot spot.
A new endeavor is a-brewin’ for Prairie Street Brewing Company.
Last year, co-owners Chris Manuel, Reed Sjostrom and Dustin Koch saw an opportunity when the Rockford Park District announced it was searching for a concession operations partner at the new UW Health Sports Factory at 305 S. Madison St., Rockford. The co-owners jumped at the prospect and are excited to announce the opening of the brand new Owly Oop Sports Pub, located inside the Sports Factory, which is on the Rock River.
“This was something we all had an interest in,” says Manuel. “The three of us have a love of water, sports, and obviously downtown Rockford, so this was just a natural fit.”
The Sports Factory itself boasts 14 volleyball courts, seven basketball courts, 16 wrestling mats, 42 pickle ball courts, an array of meeting spaces and, of course, concessions operated by Prairie Street Brewing Company. A small, court-level stand offers quick options, while upstairs, a 2,700-square-foot restaurant serves upscale pub fare.
The 180-degree view of the Rock River is no small asset.
“I think water brings a feeling of tranquility into the dining experience,” Manuel says. “And this is a view that no one has been able to experience before in Rockford. To be able to provide that at Owly Oop Sports Pub is amazing.”
The family-friendly pub will have a 12-foot TV screen – the largest in Rockford – as well as multiple large-screen TVs for regular sports viewing. Seating for a capacity of 160 people is available indoors or outside on the patio.
The north and south courts are visible from the restaurant, making it easy to watch the various games happening below. However, the pub is open to all – not just to sports participants.
“People can come here, even if they’re not part of the games happening in the Sports Factory,” Sjostrom says. “It’ll be a cool place to come at any time with friends and family. And with the river view, you could sit outside and not even know that the courts are bustling with activity in the rest of the building.”
The menu is similar to that of Prairie Street Brewing Co., with more handheld options and fewer entrée items. Fan favorites, such as cheese curds, are staying on the menu.
There will also be an increase in healthy options, such as hummus, a quinoa and black bean burger, egg salad with sautéed spinach, and more. Ingredients are locally sourced as much as possible – a win for both the local economy and the environment.
“We definitely wanted to bring in healthier options that you might not see at other restaurants,” Manuel says. “The three of us have always been patrons of the outdoors; we want to be cognizant of Mother Nature. Using local ingredients decreases transportation exhaust, packaging, and it keeps money in the local economy, which is better for Rockford all together.”
As for brews, the options are the same as at Prairie Street Brewing Co., with additional one-off selections.
Prairie Street Brewing Co.’s handcrafted beer will be brought over in kegs and served on tap, while smaller on-site brewing will serve as a test platform for new flavors to make in larger quantities.
“This place is going to be the best sports pub downtown,” Sjostrom says. “Bigger TVs, a first-class menu, the view of the river – there’s just not anything else like it in Rockford. It’s a new perspective of downtown.”
Owly Oop Sports Pub is expected to open by the end of July.