Hamburger Mary's gets sporty
Last night, I went to the preview party for Andersonville’s newest spot: Hamburger Mary’s sports bar and microbrewery adjacent to its restaurant at Clark and Balmoral. While drinking the gratis housemade Dandy Shandy and nibbling on the deep-fried mac-and-cheese balls, deep-fried crab-cake bites and deep-fried beer-batter dough balls (i.e., I was in a good mood), I chatted with Mary’s owners, Ashley and Brandon Wright—the clean-cut 36-year-old twin brothers who discussed their latest venture with new-parent eagerness.
The bros explained that with the Hamburger Mary’s restaurant next door and the Mary’s Attic nightclub above, they wanted something sort of between the two. Exit the former Tomboy restaurant; enter the twins’ sports bar, which will be open from 4 or 5pm to 2am and serve food till 1am, making this the rare A’ville joint serving late-night eats. As for the sports half of the sports-bar equation, Ashley says the flat screens—each on its own receiver—will always play games, but the sound will be on only for “major games.”
A clear improvement over the identity-lacking space that preceded it, the sports bar retains the queer-friendly vibe that defines Hamburger Mary’s—where else does your check arrive tucked inside a sequined high heel? The bar features eight well-positioned flat screens, lots of high tables and chairs, a long high booth against one wall and—in a corner, glassed-in room—the star attraction: three beer tanks. The biggest can produce 15 kegs; the other two, ten kegs apiece. And there’s enough sporty equipment hanging around—racquets and whatnot—to suggest sports bar without screaming “gay Chili’s.”
Owners of Chicago’s Hamburger Mary’s since 2006, the Wrights took over the national chain about a year and a half ago. The brothers quickly breathed fresh life into the HM brand, opening three new franchises in the first year alone. Next up: Cincinnati, which will make Hamburger Mary’s number eight. (Ashley said there’s an overseas—but still secret—HM in the works.)
A decade ago, Brandon, then a chemical engineer, had a work assignment in Saudi Arabia, which, tragically, prohibits drinking alcohol. So the resourceful beer lover started brewing his own. After home-brewing for the past ten years, Brandon now makes his hobby his profession. Last night, the Wrights offered Gangster (“hopped-up amber ale”), Lightweight Golden Ale and, my fave, Dandy Shandy. On the lineup: the Mary Hoppins. The official opening, Ashley said, is "Tuesday or Wednesday" of next week: July 14 or 15.