Ages: Amy, 38 (left), Clodagh, 42, and Billy, 66.
Live in: Lakeview.
Claims-to-fame: Proprietors of The Dearborn (145 N. Dearborn).
Family roots: Almost 18 years ago, restaurateur Billy Lawless Sr. and his family moved from Ireland to Chicago to open their first bar in Wrigleyville, The Irish Oak. After the family sold the bar in 2009, the sisters, under their father’s leadership, managed The Gage (24 S. Michigan) and Acanto (18 S. Michigan). “We’ve worked in every facet of the business under our dad, from chief bottle washer and dish washer to bar back, bartender, server and reception,” Clodagh says. “It’s in our blood.”
A new chapter: After working alongside their father, the sisters decided to start a concept of their own. “It was always our intention to open a restaurant by ourselves,” Amy says. “When we saw [The Dearborn] space, we said, ‘This is it.’ ”
The concept: The new restaurant is an urban American tavern with strong Midwestern influences. “We’re doing everything from a seafood tower to a house-made Chicago dog. Our chef Aaron Cuschieri, [from Bravo’s “Top Chef New Orleans”], is focusing on sourcing from as many local farmers as possible,” Amy says. “There is a farmers market across the street every Thursday, so every week we’ll [serve] a market dish.”
The design: Architect Mark Knauer focused on creating an industrial and urban feel for the space. “Our front room pays homage to the Chicago L tracks, and one of the murals is from the early 1900s, [depicting] this very corner of Dearborn and Randolph,” Clodagh says. “We also have a mural of the Chicago Theatre from 1936. It was very important to us to have a restaurant that eats, sleeps and breathes Chicago.”
Father’s wisdom: “It’s very emotional to talk about our dad for Father’s Day, because he’s done so much to set us up in our lives,” Clodagh says. “Honesty and integrity are things he’s instilled in us since we were young, and that filters through to where we are today.”
Photo by Ramzi Dreessen; Shot on location at The Dearborn