With decades of hospitality experience deep within their blood line, sisters Clodagh and Amy Lawless know a thing or two about the restaurant industry. After their father, Billy Lawless, moved the family’s restaurant business from Ireland to Chicago in the late 1990s and opened The Irish Oak, Wrigleyville’s first authentic Irish tavern, both sisters jumped head first into the daily operations of the venue. As time passed, both Clodagh and Amy continued to play an integral role in running the family business, moving into key positions at highly acclaimed venues such as The Gage and Acanto. Refining her understanding of Chicago’s elevated, chef-driven dining landscape, Clodagh honed her managerial skills through staffing the cocktail and wine programs with high-caliber bartenders, sommeliers and servers, and also took hold of many of the restaurant’s administrative duties. Amy worked the full gamut of front-of-house duties, first working as a bartender before moving into a central management position.  

Leveraging over 20 years of industry experience behind the scenes, the Lawless sisters now step up to partner on the launch of The Dearborn, an ambitious multi-million dollar project slated to open in summer 2016. The massive, 8,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge is located at booming corner of Randolph & Dearborn, and is part of the expanding Block 37 property. Although the lease for the space was signed over three years ago, the Lawless sisters have been patiently waiting to begin the build out of the project, which will subsequently launch next year in tandem with Block 37’s residential tower—690 units that will make up the largest rental apartment building to be constructed in the Loop in decades.  

“We found the space and saw that potential of the area with the theatre district, the legal community, the State Street shopping crowd and the growing residential component,” Clodagh Lawless says. “But we wanted to wait until a good amount of construction was completed to begin work. Now we’re full steam ahead and couldn’t be more excited to see our vision underway.”

Although early details are still in development, The Dearborn will seat 225 as an urban American tavern serving upscale and seasonal cuisine with a contemporary twist. The venue will also present a lively and inviting bar scene that honors classic American cocktails and beers. A chef and pastry chef will be announced in the months to come. 

Industry News, NextGen Casual