A New Chicago Cafe and Bottle Shop Flaunts Funky ’70s Vibes

A New Chicago Cafe and Bottle Shop Flaunts Funky ’70s Vibes

By Alia Akkam
Equal parts cafe, bottle shop, and market, this laid-back hangout brightens Chicago’s Ukrainian Village.

Produce sourced from the Upper Midwest, natural wine, and provisions like cheese and charcuterie get the spotlight at the new, inviting, retro-inspired Brothers and Sisters. 

Hospitality veterans Erin Carlman Weber (former events director for Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard’s Chicago restaurants) and Derek Herbster (who most recently oversaw the coffee program at Portsmith inside downtown Chicago’s Dana Hotel), founded Brothers and Sisters in partnership with Jonny Hunter, the James Beard-nominated, chef-activist behind Underground Food Collective in Madison, Wisconsin. 

The bar, topped in Amazonite Quartzite and complemented by mirrors, wood, and seating reminiscent of a diner, is a highlight of the space.

Nathan Warkentin, creative director at Los Angeles–based studio Original Action Group—he previously dreamed up the branding for Mast Brothers chocolate company—created the 1,500-square-foot space with nods to a slew of designers including Gae Aulenti, Jean Prouvé, and Milo Baughman.

Armed with a well considered business concept for Brothers and Sisters, Warkentin worked alongside the partners to help define the vibe. "Communal living and the notion of ‘chosen family’ was foundational to how we approached the design," says Warkentin. "The direction naturally fell into place based on our collective tastes. They were supportive of my ideas, even the ones that were a little out there."

Warkentin eagerly blended motley textures and finishes. Glazed brick wall tiles, for example, meld with cozy wood panelling and herringbone-patterned flooring. The centerpiece of Brothers and Sisters is the bar, where patrons perch on commodious stools and knock back lentil croquettes with canned beer. 

Brothers and Sisters is passionate about wine, as revealed by this column ringed with illuminated wood shelving that puts an impressive bottle selection at the forefront.

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Crafted from Amazonite Quartzite, natural stone quarried in Brazil, the bar top "has a vibrant turquoise background with burgundy and beige veining. There couldn’t have been a better selection for this space. We knew this was the one at first sight," Warkentin points out.

From coffee to cheese, one of the draws to Brothers and Sisters is its range of market items, invitingly laid out on shelves and behind glass.

A communal table featuring cube seating reinforces Brothers and Sisters' devotion to fostering camaraderie.

Quirky branding comes courtesy of such elements as hand drawings.

Anamorphic cutting boards that call to mind Finnish designer Alvar Aalto’s supple glass Savoy vase and whimsical, hand-drawn characters woven into the branding capture Warkentin’s attention to detail. A striped Danish shag rug framed on the wall, as well as circa-1968 Verner Panton FlowerPot pendants, infuse Brothers and Sisters with a cheerful 1970s feel.

Visitors to Brothers and Sisters often sit down for meals revolving around the likes of egg sandwiches, creamed whitefish, and lamb meatballs.

The 1970s come alive by pairing a shag rug with Panton FlowerPot lighting. 

"The 1970s became an obvious touchpoint for this project," says Warkentin. "That era captured an eclectic, fun, and free spirit." 

Visit Brothers and Sisters online.

Related Reading: A Modern Liquor Market in Culver City Reminds the Neighborhood to Drink Well

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: J. Kirk Irwin

Builder: Northwood Services, LLC

Interior Design: Nathan Warkentin, Original Action Group


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