Women’s History Month Feature #5
Julie | Co-Owner, The Open Bottle
In honor of Women’s History Month, we will be featuring local female owned, or co-owned, breweries all month.
We couldn’t let our Women’s History Month feature wrap up without including our very own co-owner here at The Open Bottle, Julie.
Julie leads the team in many ways including scheduling, payroll, event planning, and much more. If she’s not at the shop, she’s working long hours from home while managing mom duties to her two boys, Parker (almost 6) and Elliott (newly 4). After opening the first The Open Bottle location in Tinley Park in 2015, Julie and co-owner and husband Patrick opened their second location in Lockport in February 2021. Not only is the business growing, but Julie and Patrick are excited to announce their family is growing, too! They are expecting their third little one in early October.
We wanted to dive into her experience as a woman in the beer industry and learn more about her challenges, advice, and beer goals in our TOB Q&A:
What’s your favorite thing about the beer industry?
We opened our doors in January 2015 and it’s been very inspiring to see the local beer scene take off. When we opened we created our “Illinois” section in the store thinking that there would be plenty of space for the Illinois beers. (Nowadays we could probably fit local beer on every shelf in the shop.) But with the help of places like TOB we’ve been able to showcase local breweries, help them grow, and watch them succeed.
Do you have any advice for women interested in the industry?
Be yourself and be strong. Although it’s been getting better over recent years, the beer industry is traditionally male dominated. So often women feel the need to transform to fit a role or company, but a good company will respect you for you.
We’ve always had a diverse staff at TOB. We’re owned solely by myself and Patrick but we have the help from our General Manager, Erin, to keep the day to day running smoothly. In recent months, more than 62.5% of our staff is women and I think it’s because we create a safe, caring work environment.
What’s your favorite beer you’ve collaborated on?
This is a toughie since they’ve all been a lot of fun. But if I had to narrow it down, it would be these two:
Transient Artisan Ales Bowser & Koopa, Barrel Aged Koopa, and Barrel Aged Bowser. It was an honor to have our dogs, Bowser & Koopa, join the Transient dog brigade. Before the shops, our dogs did everything with us (and even used to come to TOB often in 2015). We tried to showcase our dogs’ personalities in the label design and flavors. Bowser passed unexpectedly in 2020 and seeing the beers (or t-shirts) help us remember him.
Prairie Artisan Ales Ya Gotta Horchata. The first batch was the first time we ever made a collab out of state (especially one where we hopped on a plane). Micky, the former rep for Prairie, gave us a tour of OKC, and I still think about the amazing cheeseburgers we got from a tiny diner for lunch.
Let’s talk beer goals. Dream collab? Store expansion?
Many know that we recently opened our Lockport location February 2021. We had a lot of fun with this expansion adding a craft cocktail program, spirits, updated back of house, and added some creative touches (have you checked out both bathrooms?!). In December we updated our Tinley Park liquor license and plan to launch our cocktail program at Tinley very soon.
Fun fact (in reference to the previous question): we have a giant Bowser & Koopa vinyl in the break room.
What does life look like outside of the shop?
If I’m not at the shop I spend a lot of time with our two boys, Parker (almost 6) and Elliott (newly 4). We try to spend a lot of time outside, but the recent Chicago weather makes that hard. I work long hours and do a lot of my work from home. On an average weekday I wake up around 6:30am, go into the shop by 9am, home by 5pm, and continue working after the kids go to bed. Then I finally go to bed around midnight. Some days can get chaotic, but I manage to juggle everything thrown at me. The chaos and the juggling will have to ensue because Patrick and I are expecting our third little one, due in early October 🙂