Everything about Howells & Hood, the new restaurant and bar set to open March 16 on the street level of Tribune Tower, feels huge.
The street-level space measures 17,300 square feet, and will contain three full bars, 360 draft beer lines, two DJ booths and a private dining room complete with mechanically fogging windows. TVs are being installed along many of its walls, and French doors open onto a 300-seat patio on Pioneer Court that eventually will be home to two 26-foot, heated umbrellas, 16-foot fire tables and a clear view of the Trump and Wrigley buildings. If all rooms and the patio were filled, the restaurant could accomodate approximately 800 guests.
"We're combining the best of the best of what we've done with our other restaurants," said Chris Bisaillon, a co-owner of Bottleneck Management, the group that owns Howells & Hood as well as Old Town Pour House, The Boundary and Sweetwater. "Though it's a lot more upscale food."
The food menu comes courtesy of former Markethouse chef Scott Walton, who is known for his local- and farm-to-table focus.
But it's the beer that really gets Bisaillon talking. More than 100 different draft beers will be available on the 360 draft lines, which are spread between the three seperate bars in the restaurant's dining room and patio. It's an ambitious lineup, and one that Bisaillon said would comprise the most draft beers of any restaurant or bar in the city.
Bisaillon emphasizes local brews as well as seasonal beers, some of which will be tapped from smaller kegs to ensure freshness. All will be stored in the restaurant's 670-keg walk-in cooler. The task of assembling this massive list falls to beverage director Ken Hendricks, who also is behind the lineup at Old Town Pour House.
Eight draft wines, including an exclusive one created for Howells & Hood by Washington's Millbrant Winery, also are in the works.
While the draft lines and bar bases are visible now, construction crews are working to install flooring, lights and the copper bar tops. Bisaillon hopes Howells & Hood will up and running in time for St. Patrick's Day, though city inspections could delay the opening.
In an homage to the building that it will soon call home, Howells & Hood is named for Tribune Tower's two architects.
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