About Us

From the start we’ve been about genuine people and genuine hospitality. We’ve grown into a crowd-pleasing hospitality juggernaut while continuing to hold our core values close to our hearts.

How It All Started

Two friends from Illinois Wesleyan University decided to leave their respective careers to pursue a passion to become self-employed entrepreneurs.

Jason Akemann and Nate Hilding opened Trace, a two-story tavern in Chicago’s Wrigleyville in the spring of 2001. In 2007, Bottleneck began to take shape when Jason and Nate teamed up with long-time friend and IWU classmate, Chris Bisaillon. In September of that year, the three partners opened their first full-service restaurant, The Boundary in Wicker Park. Aggressive growth ensued.

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Purpose & Values

Our core values stem from a desire to surround ourselves with genuine people.

We strive to live and work in an honest manner in order to offer our guests an authentic hospitality experience.  Understand, Support, Empower and Enjoy are not just the key attributes of our company, they’re the principles at the heart of who we are. These bedrock values remind us to be the best versions of ourselves and the best teammates for each other.

Our purpose is to make someone’s day better, whether that’s a teammate or guest. Genuine people offering genuine hospitality – that’s who we are.


We believe listening is key to understanding. Whether it’s our open door policy at the home office, or seeking to understand our guest’s needs, truly listening to one another and keeping an open mind to new possibilities and perspectives is what leads to understanding.


We trust that every member of our team is taking ownership of their work and are therefore empowered to make great decisions.


A supportive climate fosters incredible things. We encourage each other, we come to the table prepared, and we set our teams up for success by providing the tools they need. Support is helping each other grow.


We enjoy “hosting the party” for our guests. To do that well, we choose high-energy, positive, passionate teammates. Together, we create an enjoyable working environment.

Join Our Team

We’re growing fast and looking for like-minded people who are interested in joining a dynamic, supportive team.

We believe it’s our people that make us strong, so we’re committed to finding driven, hospitable, upbeat and intelligent teammates. Whether it’s in our home office or our restaurants, we put hospitality first, like great hosts at a party.

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