It all started when two friends from Illinois Wesleyan University decided to leave their respective careers to pursue a passion to become self employed entrepreneurs. Jason Akemann and Nathan Hilding opened Trace, a two story store front tavern in Chicago's Wrigleyville, in the spring of 2001.
Doing much of the aesthetic finishes themselves, and with the help of ever supportive friends and family, they opened just in time for the start of the Chicago Cubs baseball season. Luckily, their fortune over the years has fared better than that of the Cubs.
In 2007 Jason and Nathan brought on a third partner, and another classmate from IWU, Chris Bisaillon. With the addition of Chris to the partnership Bottleneck’s expansion plans began to take root. In September of 2007, the three partners opened The Boundary in the Wicker Park neighborhood.
In September 2009, following The Boundary’s success, the group opened Sweetwater Tavern and Grille, located on Chicago's historic Michigan Avenue, within easy reach of Millenium Park.
Jason, Nate and Chris had always been driven by opportunity, rather than a time table, and another great location came onto their radar in the Loop district. South Branch sits along the south branch of the Chicago River, and opened in March of 2011.
In March 2012, Corporate Executive Chef Paul Katz came on board with the opening of Old Town Pour House in the Old Town neighborhood in Chicago. Chef Katz elevated the culinary program at this location with a unique and refined approach to American classics, executing each dish with original flavors. This stunning space took on a life of its own very quickly, while housing what was the largest craft beer selection on draft in the entire city of Chicago (90 tap handles).
90 tap handles were trumped not by a competitor, but by a brand new Bottleneck location. Howells & Hood opened in March 2013, in the ground floor of the iconic and breathtaking Tribune Tower. One would be hard-pressed to find a more upbeat and vibrant location on the Magnificent Mile. The culinary program is complemented by 119 unique local and global beers on draft, making it the largest draft selection in the city, and likely, the world.
The Crown, nestled within the flying buttresses of the Tribune Tower’s 25th floor, opened for private events in 2013, shortly after Howells & Hood made its Chicago debut. Since then, The Crown is becoming the most impressive private event space in the city. Offering 360 degree views, an indoor lounge, and private outdoor veranda, The Crown is perfect for cocktail receptions for up to 150 people.
Bottleneck Management recently opened their first restaurant outside of Chicago city limits, and their first expansion of the original Old Town Pour House brand. The new location opened in Oak Brook, Illinois in November 2013. Like its sister location, Old Town Pour House - Oak Brook houses 90 local and global beers on draft, craft cocktails, and Modern American cuisine made from scratch.
In March 2015, the Pour House brand made the move outside of Illinois with Old Town Pour House - Gaithersburg opening in the new Downtown Crown area of Gaithersburg, MD. The 7,966 sq ft inside dining/bar area and 1,511 sq ft outdoor patio makes a bold statement as our eighth Bottleneck Management location in total.
The new year saw the development of a new brand for the Bottleneck portfolio. City Works opened its first location in March 2016, in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. With 10,000 sq ft of floorspace, City Works MPLS offers a similar concept to Old Town Pour House but with more of a restaurant focus, allowing the upscale food from Executive Chef Paul Kats to shine, while still being supported by a great craft beer and beverage system.
July 2016 saw a return to the local dining scene with our fourth Old Town Pour House location opening in Naperville, IL. With our popular copper-inlayed bars and tables, custom-milled dark woodwork, high ceilings, and operable windows opening up to the outdoor patio space, Old Town Pour House - Naperville retains the familiar look and feel of the concept, but also presents our first circular bar area, and a unique patio design with permanent heating and a four-sided fireplace to extend the al fresco season.
City Works KOP opened as part of the brand new Town Center development of King of Prussia in December 2016. Just 40 minutes from the center of Philadelphia and 5 minutes drive from the second largest Mall in the US, this restaurant continues the strong focus on craft beer and a modern American food menu. The building is our first stand-alone unit built specifically for us, with 8,000 sq ft and a mezzanine for additional storage and cooler space.
2017 got off to a frantic start, with two restaurants opening just six days apart. The preceeding growth of the Bottleneck team meant that everyone stepped up and saw us through another significant period. Firstly, City Works Pittsburgh openend on the day of the Pittsburgh St Patrick's celebrations in March 2017. Their downtown location in the iconic PPG place and on the south side of Market Square means they quickly became a natural draw for the many downtown residents and commuters.
The second March 2017 opening was City Works Doral, a restaurant that is located in a brand new entertainment complex just 12 miles from Miami. With 217 seats inside and another 97 on the patio, this City Works had a great reception on Opening weekend, and we look forward to growing as the area continues to develop into a thriving lifestyle center.
Always scouting and reviewing other potential locations for expansion, Bottleneck Management restaurant group is showing no signs of slowing down. The company’s growth over the past ten years has been tremendous and has been supported by a very talented team of industry professionals. The Bottleneck family looks forward to exploring a span of neighborhoods across the US, and to being a part of each and every community throughout the journey.