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It's all in the family for sisters Clodagh and Amy Lawless of The Dearborn

Posted  5 years ago

2 MIN READ - When you dine at The Dearborn on the corner of Dearborn and Randolph Streets, you might notice two women who look like they could be sisters moving about nonstop from room to room. If you talk to them, you would definitely hear the same lilting Irish brogue and realize that, indeed, they are sisters.

Amy Lawless and Clodagh Lawless own the bustling Loop restaurant. The business is truly in their blood. Raised in Galway, Ireland, they spent their formative years immersed in the hotel, restaurants and pubs their parents owned. So, it’s no surprise that both of them ended up in hospitality.

After spending time in the States—Clodagh to work for a year while doing her post-graduate studies and Amy, the younger, to attend college on a rowing scholarship—the entire Lawless family moved to Chicago in 1998 and opened their first pub, the Irish Oak in Wrigleyville. Two more restaurants would follow, The Gage and Henri (now Acanto) in the Loop.

In 2016, the sisters, who are three years apart and consider each other best friends, decided it was time to go out on their own—together. They opened The Dearborn in the new Block 37, an urban American tavern serving Midwestern-leaning food. Three years in, it’s become a welcome place for both locals and tourists in the Loop.

Running a restaurant is challenging, to say the least, but the Lawless sisters, who are moms as well, manage to make it look easy. They say it comes down to shared values and complete honesty. (Their humor and genuine Irish hospitality—those just come naturally.) When they started the business, they laid out their respective strengths and weaknesses to figure out how they would complement each other as partners. Over time, they’ve built a strong team who consider each other family as well and work together to create a comfortable experience for everyone.

Neither sister particularly loves the spotlight, although they appear from time to time in fun videos on The Dearborn’s social media pages. But they love what they do, and it shows. To learn more about the Lawless sisters and their restaurant, visit thedearborntavern.com.

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