The Consumption of Style: Sparrow Chicago
Name: Chris Haisma
Title: Owner / Partner of Footman Hospitality
About Footman Hospitality: Founded by partners Jason Freiman, Nick Podesta and Chris Haisma, Footman Hospitality derives its name from the most valuable of 19th century servants; the footman. Footmen acted as the backbone of nobility, bringing pomp and circumstance to the household. Motivated by their commitment to hospitality, Footman Hospitality creates experiences that preserve the idea of a warm, welcoming reception with flawless execution for all guests. Thoughtful craftsmanship and inviting atmospheres are paramount in each of their hospitality-driven venues that include Bangers & Lace locations in Wicker Park, Evanston, and Roscoe Village; popular sports bar, The Anthem; neighborhood taverns, Bucktown Pub and Spilt Milk; refined dining destination, The Betty, and classic lobby bar, Sparrow; encouraging their guests to return time and time again. For more information, please visit www.footmanhospitality.com.
When and where did your passion for the hospitality industry begin?
My passion for hospitality began at a young age, when I began working at a pizza joint at age 15 to save money to buy a car. I got my first taste of high end, high volume hospitality when I was given an opportunity to work at a well-known restaurant on Rush Street at age 19. I was hooked.
How would you describe the atmosphere at Sparrow?
Inspired by the great hotel lobby bars of Chicago, Sparrow exudes a comfortable and friendly vibe with an old-school touch to the service and offerings.
What’s your inspiration when opening a new bar/restaurant such as Sparrow?
We wanted to bring something different to the neighborhood when we began this project. Gold Coast has so many successful staple bars and restaurants, but we felt that the neighborhood needed something new and fresh, somewhere people could stop in multiple times a week whether it be for happy hour, before dinner, after dinner, or a simple nightcap.
How long did it take Sparrow to go from concept to creation? What are some of the small details that go into opening a restaurant that most people wouldn’t think of?
It took about a year to bring Sparrow to fruition. Hiring the right people to execute a vision is the number one detail that goes into opening a restaurant or bar. Hospitality too often gets lost in the hustle of the business. We can train anyone about the food, wine, and drinks we offer, but we can’t train them to be nice, humble and value the true foundations of hospitality.
What makes Sparrow unique to other establishments in Chicago?
Sparrow has character unlike any other establishment. Upon entering guests are transported back in time, almost like a getaway or respite of sorts. On any given night you will see a variety of people enjoying themselves, seeking intimate dialog and artistically curated cocktails and libations.
What other establishments are under the Footman Hospitality umbrella?
We own and operate The Betty, Bangers & Lace (Wicker Park, Evanston, and Roscoe Village), Spilt Milk, The Anthem, and Bucktown Pub.