Sportsman's Club is a cozy neighborhood tavern offering quality cocktails, beer, wine & spirits.
At Sportsman's Club, the first project to launch in Heisler Hospitality's (Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner) neighborhood tavern series, managing partner and beverage director, Wade McElroy, along with partner Jeff Donahue, takes on the challenge of creating balanced, compelling cocktails using minimal ingredients. Joining the project in early 2013 after meeting Eisler and Heisner while on the opening team at Trenchermen, McElroy is able to bring this philosophy to life, shying away from trendy kitchen-focused techniques and harking back to a more classic style of bartending.
An Arizona native, McElroy started working in the hospitality industry while studying sociology at Arizona State University. After graduation, he moved to New York City and immersed himself in venues that were passionate about the craft of cocktails, including The Standard, The Dutch, and Rye House, where he honed his classic, restrained approach under respected bartenders Jim Kearns and Naren Young.
McElroy moved to Chicago in 2011 and helped open Barrelhouse Flat, which was named one of Esquire's "Best Bars in America." It was there that he also met fellow Sportsman's Club partner/beverage director Jeff Donahue and learned that they shared similar sensibilities towards service and appreciated the same qualities in bars.
Jeff Donahue has always appreciated a simple, straightforward cocktail and gravitated toward the idea that less is more. As managing partner and beverage director at Sportsman's Club, the first venue in Heisler Hospitality's (Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner) neighborhood tavern series, Donahue hones in on this approach, bringing the focus back to the basics and the back bar. Rounding out Sportsman's Club's beverage program, Donahue also draws on his extensive sommelier experience to select the bar's thoughtful terroir-driven wine offerings, available by the glass and for carry-out.
Donahue graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in psychology and moved to Chicago in 2004. He started working under cocktail veteran Adam Seger at Nacional 27 then served as general manager and beverage director at Province, followed by opening manager at James Beard award-winning bar The Aviary. In 2011, Donahue assisted in opening Barrelhouse Flat, where he first met fellow Sportsman's Club partner/beverage director Wade McElroy and found that they shared similar approaches to bartending. They pushed each other to further develop their voices and styles and have since carried over this collaborative nature of drink making to Sportsman's Club. In 2012, Donahue was recognized on Zagat's '30 Under 30' list for his work in the beverage industry.
A well-known name in Chicago's hospitality industry, Matt Eisler is responsible for a myriad of unique restaurant and bar concepts in Chicago, with current projects including Trenchermen, Nightwood, Bar DeVille, Lone Wolf, Sportsman's Club, and The Revel Room.
Prior to becoming an established entrepreneur in Chicago's hospitality industry, Eisler attended the University of Notre Dame, where he studied business and was a three-time MVP on the ice hockey team. After graduation, he signed with the National Hockey League's Calgary Flames and played for three years. In 2004, Eisler retired his skates and began his foray into the nightlife and hospitality industry with the opening of Elm Street Liquors. Over the course of a decade, he has opened numerous successful venues in Chicago, as well as overseen brand expansion to cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and Barcelona.
In 2006, Eisler partnered with respected local designer Kevin Heisner to form Heisler. The hospitality group melds Eisler's agile eye for opportunity and management know-how with Heisner's inspired design. Together, they have not only become known for their forward-thinking concepts, but also for their efforts to mentor and champion the people they work with. In 2009, Eisler was included in the prestigious Crain's Chicago Business '40 Under 40' list for his work in the hospitality industry. He continues to bring to life new and exciting ideas that feel refined and timeless.
A principal at Heisler, Kevin Heisner is the designer of countless award-winning restaurants and bars in Chicago, with current projects including Trenchermen, Nightwood, Bar DeVille, Lone Wolf, Sportsman's Club, and The Revel Room, as well as a number of high-end residential projects. In addition, he has assisted with notable venues such as The Publican, Violet Hour, and Big Star.
Heisner embarked on a career in interior design in the late 1980s after graduating from the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Always deriving content from his personal taste, he has quietly contributed to the changing landscape of Chicago design for years. In 2006, Heisner honed in on the hospitality industry by forming Heisler with entrepreneur Matt Eisler. Rather than plug concepts into spaces, they thoughtfully work backwards, allowing their ideas to evolve organically and a fully formed venue to emerge.
Taking a purposeful approach to design, Heisner also has a reason behind every aesthetic decision and material used, lending credibility to each Heisler concept. Heisner's work has been recognized both locally and nationally in publications such as Time Out Chicago and Hospitality Design.