Residence: Wicker Park
Matt Eisler may own a Chicago lounge, but he doesn’t quite put it that way when talking to his grandmother. “She’s so proud of me,” he says of his past accomplishments. “So it’s not a bar; it’s a bar and grill when I talk to Grandma.”
Regardless of his guilt complex, Eisler has a good thing going at Elm Street Liquors, his posh Gold Coast watering hole. After he had worked security and then managed Whiskey Sky (in the W Chicago Lakeshore) for almost two years, his entrepreneurial spirit took over. Last July he opened what he calls “a high-end dive bar” that melds casual attitudes with a classy atmosphere. Like its creator, Elm Street Liquors doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Eisler enjoys the fact that his current lifestyle lets him dress casually day and night. “I can wear jeans and a T-shirt every day.” Quite a change from his first career. As a goalie on Notre Dame’s hockey team for four years, and then on the Calgary Flames’ farm team for three more, Eisler was wearing either pads and a facemask or a suit. “Playing hockey is what I had always wanted to do,” Eisler says. But after nonstop traveling and minimal professional progress, he quit the game and moved to Chicago to be close to his friends.
Elm Street Liquors celebrates its one-year anniversary this month, and Eisler feels he finally has some traction. “I haven’t taken a conventional route, and just now I’m starting to do something I really like,” he says.
Email Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photography by McArthurphotography.com