Transforming Places to Eat and Drink Into Communities
Restaurants are more than just places to eat and drink. They are meeting places that bring together our community. At Root Collective community means more than just the people living around us: it’s our family, friends and visitors. It is the artists whose works enrich our city and the theaters which entertain us daily. It is our fellow businesses who have set up shop in the neighborhood and those working together to help out those in need. It is groups gathering together around a common passion or to celebrate with one another. Root Collective strives to welcome and support all of our communities.
Our Team is committed to providing each of our guests a distinctive, friendly and quality experience. We expect great things from one another, so that together we deliver on our promise to you: to deliver an authentic food and beverage experience, dedicated to unique, community driven and guest-focused concepts.
At Root Collective, quality drives all of our decisions; our guest deserve and value the highest quality we can offer.
Always genuine, always approachable, the Root Collective experience delivers thoughtful hospitality.
Root Collective strives to make each visit a unique and memorable one.
The Arts is a vital part of a strong community and an integral component of each of our concepts.
Always welcoming, accessible and comfortable, Root Collective supports the community through partnerships benefiting neighborhood non-profits, social groups, and organizations that further education, the arts and sustainability.
Root Collective embraces a commitment to source locally and be active champions for the communities to which we belong.
Repeatedly recognized as one of the top sports bars in Chicago and one of the best gay sports bars in the country, Crew Bar + Grill offers a customer-centric experience, friendly team members, extensive beer and cocktail offerings and not your typical bar food. Located in Uptown at 4804 N. Broadway St., Crew features a glass front façade with foldback doors, a contemporary interior with table and bar seating, a dart machine and jukebox, and 24 HDTVs so that every seat in the bar has a great view. With access to all major sports programming packages, Crew is the place to root on your team, no matter who it is. Our menu offers a wide variety of fresh made, classic and unique items to go along with our 60+ beers and extensive spirits offerings.
As a member of the GLBT and Uptown communities, Crew Bar + Grill understands the importance of supporting local community and GLBT groups in a variety of ways. Crew annually sponsors more than thirty teams playing a host of sports in the Chicago Metropolitan Sports Association (CMSA) and Athletic Alliance of Chicago (ACC) including softball, flag football, indoor and beach volleyball, kickball, dodgeball, basketball, darts, bowling, Ultimate and tennis. It has also been lead sponsor of the Chicago Gay Hockey Association since 2010. Crew sponsored the Chicago Gay Hockey Association float in the 2010 Gay Pride Parade, which carried the Stanley Cup won by our own Chicago Blackhawks. Crew supports a host of other LGBT sports groups including the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame, Proud to Run, Second City Tennis and Chicago Rowing Union.
Outside the sports arena, our Annual Customer Chili Contest has raised thousands of dollars for Care for Real, a local food pantry, since 2005. Crew Bar + Grill has been a top-level Dining Out for Life participant each year since 2010, supporting the work of Edge Alliance. We also supports a host of other groups in our Uptown and GLBT communities:
• Uptown United
• McCormick Boys & Girls Club of Chicago
• About Face Theatre
• AIDS Legal Council of Chicago
• Chicago House
• Howard Brown Health Center
• Heartland Alliance
• Inspiration Corporation
• Equality Illinois
• Vital Bridges
Crew Bar + Grill is honored to have received many awards and recognitions, including "Top 3 Sports Bars in Chicago" for 2015 by ThreeBestRated.com. Crew has also been recognized as follows:
2016: Top 25 Places to Watch the NCAA Tournament—Eater Chicago
2016: Top 7 Gay Sports Bars in the US—NewNowNext.com
2015: Best Sports Bars in Chicago—Time Out Chicago
2015: Best Gay Sports Bars in the US—Compete Magazine
2015: Chicago’s Best Sports Bars—About.com
2015: Best Gay Bars in Chicago—Time Out Chicago
2014: Top 10 Sports Bars in Chicago—10best.com
2014: Top 7 Gay Sports Bars to Watch the Super Bowl—NewNowNext.com
2013: Chicago's Top 7 Sports Bars—Chicagoist
2013: Best Bar/Restaurant—46th Ward
2011: Gay Sports Bar Pioneer—Businessweek
2010: City's Best Sports Bars—Citysbest.com
2010: 100 Best Bars in Chicago—Chicago Magazine
2010: Best Gay Bar Outside of Boystown—Metromix
In the tradition of Chicago’s great neighborhood bars, The SoFo Tap promises an environment that welcomes and entertains a diverse clientele through our engaging and unique programming, friendly and customer-focused team members, and comfortable and welcoming space. Inside, enjoy a game of darts, play your favorite song on the jukebox or check out the videos on our flat panel TVs. Out back, our beer garden with its garage bar is one of the largest in the area and is not to be missed. Our friendly staff is here, ready to pour your favorite drink. The SoFo Tap features a cool blue palette, intimate environs and no pretension, which makes our casual neighborhood bar the perfect place to grab a drink and relax with friends. Flatscreens around the bar feature movie night and videos, and several evenings each week we boast live entertainment from Karaoke to interactive game shows while you sip your beer or cocktail. When warm weather and sun make an appearance, we showcase a huge backyard-style beer garden with a wooden fence, string lights, greenery, and a fully stocked bar built out of a vintage garage. It’s a great place for a private party as well.
At The SoFo Tap, we strive to deeply connect with and support our customers and our community through our support of local artists and performers and by supporting charitable organizations within our customers’ communities. The hallmark of our commitment to the arts is our Featured Artist Program, where we showcase the works of a local artist for exhibitions lasting two months. We’ve been honored to display the artistic talents of many great artists since we founded the program in 2011. We also partners with our neighbor next door, which provides services to those with development disabilities, to feature artwork by their clients.
The SoFo Tap is Your Neighborhood Bar South of Foster, offering our community a fun and relaxed no-attitude bar. The SoFo Tap is located at the corner of Clark and Argyle Streets (4923 N. Clark).
2015: Best Gay Bars In Chicago: TimeOut Chicago
2016: Best Gay Bars In Chicago: TimeOut Chicago
2016: Best Gay Bars in Chicago: Foursquare
Mark is co-founder and co-owner of Root Collective. Mark, along with Mike, oversees new concept development and acquisition and works with the culinary and beverage teams to sets the direction of each concept. Mark works hand in hand with the architects, designers and contractor to create the spaces that house the Root Collective concepts; from vision to handpicking nearly all of the finishes, fixtures and furniture. Mark also oversees purchasing, financial reporting, finance, human resources and team member benefits.
Born and raised in rural Illinois, Mark moved to Chicago in 1995 to attend DePaul University, where he received a B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting. While still in college, Mark began to work for Arthur Andersen LLP and then moved on to American Express. Most recently, Mark was Director and Practice Leader of Blackman Kallick LLP’s Transaction and Lender Services practices which merged into Plante Moran in 2012.
Being a Certified Public Accountant and working as turnaround advisor and Chief Restructuring Officer was always very rewarding and enabled Mark to see how many different businesses in a variety of industries operate, but Mark was left thinking that he really wanted to do something that was more engaging. In searching for what Mark loved he realized that cooking and entertaining were two of the things he enjoyed the most. After toying with the idea of going to culinary school Mark thought it better to put his accounting and business experience to use in owning and operating hospitality businesses.
Mark’s passion for farm to table food dates to his childhood, growing up in Illinois farm country. He learned to garden and preserve at the side of his grandmother and mother and developed a passion for cooking by watching food shows on TV long before the Food Network. Before Ina Garten (Mark’s favorite), there was the inimitable Julia Child and the Frugal Gourmet, courtesy of PBS, to help stir Mark’s passion for food.
When not working Mark loves to spend the day cooking. Mark is inspired by the historic food markets of Europe and the roadside farmers’ markets of the Midwest. Nothing is more satisfying to Mark than creating an environment where guests can relax with amazing food and drink in an unpretentious environment.
As co-owner and co-founder of Root Collective, Mike oversees new concept development and acquisition (along with Mark), marketing, promotions, special event planning, community involvement and philanthropy and legal. And whatever else needs oversight that hasn’t otherwise been assigned.
Mike moved to Chicago in 1993 following his graduation from law school to start a job as an associate at a large law firm. After a few years, through the happenstance of a chance meeting, Mike began doing telecommunications litigation work and he’s practiced in that field for over two decades.
Although legal work has always been interesting and challenging for Mike, it lacked personal satisfaction. So Mike and Mark began to look into the idea of owning their own business. They quickly realized that the only area that really inspired them was the hospitality industry.
From his earliest childhood memory, social life in Mike's extended family has always revolved around eating and drinking, and talking about what to eat and drink at the next meal. Cuisine in his traditional Irish-Polish family was never particularly adventuresome so Mike did not really begin to explore his interest in diverse cuisines until moving to Chicago, the best culinary city in America. Still, for Mike, gathering for a meal has always been an opportunity not just to nourish oneself but to connect with those in one’s life. Sharing food and drink is the stuff of Mike’s most enduring memories. To this day Mike's father still makes sure the obligatory photo of everyone seated around the table is taken before each holiday or celebratory meal.
To Mike, Root Collective is not just about creating memories around great food and drink. It’s also about community. Being part of and giving back to the community have always been priorities for Mike and one of the most important aspects of the Root Collective mission. Mike served on the Board of Directors of About Face Theatre for six years and currently serves on the boards of Chicago Market – A Community Coop, Uptown Business Partners and The Legal Council for Health and Justice.
Outside of eating and drinking, Mike's passions include college basketball and football, the Blackhawks and watching the Cubs play at the world's largest (and now nicest) outdoor beer garden. But as Mark will attest, Mike will pretty much watch any sporting event. Mike likes the concept of working out, and hopes one day to make that concept a reality too.
Ryan joined the company in October of 2012 as Business Manager. His role in handling daily accounting processes and managing vendors has been essential to operations. With the addition of new business, he has now added the responsibility of overseeing Human Resources. Due to his excellent work ethic and desire to learn, Ryan can expect to be assigned more and more work as Root Collective grows.
Originally from Georgetown, Illinois, a small town in Central Illinois, Ryan has lived in Chicago for four years. He moved to Chicago from Kentucky, after he finished his Master's in Education from Morehead State University. Ryan originally moved up to Chicago to start his teaching career. After a year of working for an online university, Ryan decided he wanted to take a different route, and found his way into the business field, when he started as Business Manager.
Outside of work Ryan is a big fan of Chicago sports, especially the Blackhawks, and he tries to attend as many sporting events as possible. When he isn’t watching sports he is active in CMSA recreational sports. He also loves to travel and try new restaurants and bars, and is a big fan of attending as many concerts and music festivals as he can. He lives for Chicago summers.
Born and raised in the northwest Georgia towns of Marietta and Rockmart, Kevin has always been surrounded by food and farms. Kevin's grandfather in Alabama was a farmer and his grandfather in Georgia studied agriculture before tending his acres of fruit trees. His brother has owned several successful restaurants. Large potluck dinners are the centerpieces of holiday get-togethers for Kevin and his family.
After an undergraduate degree in biology at Duke, Kevin moved to Chicago for graduate work in genetics and cell biology. For the next 10 years Kevin pursued opportunities in medical research (autoimmunity and MS) and teaching college biology. After receiving a certificate in entrepreneurship from Kent State University, Kevin returned to Chicago and joined Root Collective in 2016.
Kevin’s job at Root Collective allows him to explore his long-time interests in food, gardening, ecology, educating the public, and building strong restaurants and organizations. His work allows him to leverage his experience in project management and creative problem-solving.
Kevin recognizes that inventory management helps the Root Collective restaurants operate in a financially responsible manner. Still, his role as Procurement Manager excites him the most. Working with chefs to build exciting, unique, seasonal, and locally sourced menus strengthens not just a restaraunt, it also benefits local communities and builds strong food sheds and preserves heritage breeds and historic food stocks. That's work that Kevin believes in.
When he's not counting or sourcing food ingredients, Kevin enjoys cooking in his own kitchen. Other hobbies include reading, writing, gardening, and watching college sports on TV with a good beer. He and his longtime partner enjoy travel, exploring new neighborhoods and restaurants, and politics.
Joey joined the UMG in 2015 after an impressive twelve year run as a server at Crew Bar + Grill. As Operation Manager for Root Collective, he oversees cash procedures, recruiting and training at each location. He also assists with restaurant operations, inventories, office work, and scheduling.
A Texas native, Joey moved to Chicago in 2002 with a BFA in Theatre from Southern Methodist University. He fell in love with Chicago after working his first two summers at Gethsemane Garden Center in Andersonville. He is a proud company member of The House Theatre of Chicago where he has played Robots, Toto, and a villain or two. If you have seen him perform, tell him! He loves that. He has also performed at Writers’ Theatre, Northlight, Strawdog, Steppenwolf, and with the Hypocrites. He goes to Miami to perform at the Adrian Arscht Center when he finds the time.
When he is not working or rehearsing Joey enjoys horror movies, cats, and fountain sodas, not necessary in that order. He loves working somewhere that allows him to have a creative life in the amazing theatre scene of Chicago. No city like it.
Graeme serves as Operation Manager for Root Collective and the General Manager of Crew Bar + Grill. As Operations Manager, he oversees the development and implementation of consistent operational policies and procedure across all concepts. Graeme also develops marketing, event programming, trainings and promotional materials across the various Root Collective brands.
At Crew Bar + Grill, Graeme has overall responsibility for managing one of Chicago's top sports bars and one of the nation’s best gay sports bars. Crew is a burger, beer and ball-filled gay bar with as much focus on Mike Ditka and Derrick Rose as vodka and Beyoncé. To maintain the balance of great neighborhood spot and busy game day destination for a large Chicago community, Graeme starts with a focus on the basics: pouring booze into cups. From there, he strives to select the right bourbon, the best of local craft beers, and the greatest people to pour it all. With a focus on education, he works to give the staff an investment in their work, from understanding the basics of cocktails to appreciating the differences between each brand of gin or type of hops.
Before joining the nightlife industry, Graeme had a nightlife at DePaul University, where he studied practical subjects like English, philosophy and dead languages. The day after his 21st birthday, Graeme interviewed at Crew Bar + Grill, where he was hired as a server. Since then, he has been everything from a doorman to a cocktail server to a beverage director, including a short stint with the 9-to-5 world of public relations. He’s also spent time managing a gym, running a collegiate intramurals program, and selling running shoes before managing The SoFo Tap, Chicago's best bear bar and Andersonville's beloved corner watering hole. He became General Manager of Crew Bar + Grill in 2015 and in 2016 he added Operations Manager of Root Collective to his expanding responsibilities.
Beyond the bars, Graeme is a drag queen, a poet, and a total nerd. When he’s not brunching with his Dungeons & Dragons compatriots, he’s playing video games or building a costume for his draggy alter ego, Curlene Ribbon. He is also a seasoned home cook with a penchant for Mexican food and puns.
Gregg joined the company in 2015 as head chef for Crew Bar + Grill, bringing back Crew classics and local favorites while putting his own spin on the menu. Working with our General Manager, Graeme Schellenberger, Gregg handles ordering, inventory, and back of house staffing. As the head chef he is responsible for all food production and quality control.
Born and raised here in Chicago Gregg started his culinary career 15 years ago and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu with honors as a member of the culinary competition team. He has worked at many prestigious restaurants in the Chicago area and was part owner of a catering company in San Diego. Gregg is dedicated to the hospitality and finds no greater pleasure than to see guests enjoying his food in an upbeat atmosphere.
Gregg enjoys traveling (more backpacking and hostels than resorts) and has traveled to most of the lower 48 and extensively in Central America. He competes competitively in Brazilian jiu jitsu and has been a boxing coach in the past. He loves food, drink, music and the company of positive, friendly people.
Paul started as a bartender at The SoFo Tap in 2012 and became a shift manager in 2013. Paul was named General Manager in May of 2015.
Paul has found a true home at The SoFo Tap. With his desire for community and a feel for today's "Cheers," he's found all of those in The SoFo Tap. Paul has been working in the industry ever since he arrived in Chicago. Paul has college degrees in Communication and Early Childhood Education.
Back at The Ohio State University, Paul was on the cheerleading squad for five years and a captain for two of those. Throughout the years he had the privilege to cheer at almost every Big Ten schools and his team earned second place at UCA Nationals in his final year.
Paul's passion for service pervades his personal life. His friends are his family and Paul loves being able to hang out with them in his spare time. He loves to cook and has a place that allows him the ability to host people all the time. Clearly, social settings are where Paul finds his comfort zone.
Thomas is a small town boy with large city dreams. Growing up in small town Indiana, his drive to always do bigger and more fabulous things led him to Chicago. Thomas strives to become a leader wherever he is, from becoming a manager at Blockbuster and Staples back in Indiana to being Assistant Manager at Spin Nightclub, and now Assistant Manager at The SoFo Tap, Chicago's best bear bar. At The SoFo Tap, Thomas can be seen doing just about everything to make sure everyone is having an amazing time: slinging drinks, pouring shots, playing VJ. Behind the scenes, Thomas creates video playlists and creates ads and posters to promote the bar and its events and generally keeps the ship afloat.
Thomas is more than a one-trick pony. He uses his expertise and passion to his advantage to make sure The SoFo Tap shines as much as he does.
At home, Thomas really lets things get magical. His love for "The Mouse" is showcased in every inch of his apartment that he and his partner share. Disney truly makes a statement and Thomas is proud to exhibit his array of collectibles that leave guests feeling like they have gone to the Magic Kingdom themselves. During his days before The SoFo Tap, Thomas developed a passion and respect for the art of drag and was able to work with some famous drag queens, many of whom were featured on RuPaul's Drag Race and even film. Thomas has coordinated a host of drag-related events. Thomas’ other passions include all things Apple, French Bulldogs, and his soon-to-be husband.
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