Albany Park welcomed a new brewpub to the neighborhood on Wednesday as Twisted Hippo opened its doors to the general public with a remodeled space, new food, and 14 new beers. There’s new lighting and colorful murals that feature the brewery’s pink cartoon hippo inside a building that housed two brewpubs prior.
There’s also a new commitment to the community and to the staff. The food and beer prices are inclusive so the husband-and-wife ownership team of Karl and Marilee Rutherford can pay their staff better and offer full-timers health insurance. Tipping is optional as their pricing model is more inline with Europe.
“We’ve been told that we are going to fail,” Marilee Rutherford said, mentioning dismissive discussion with others in the beer industry. “And I would like to challenge that assertion.”
Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance benefits (they’re also working on adding dental and vision) apply to employees who work at least 30 hours a week. The inclusive prices are a little more than what customers may expect to pay for food and beverage, but Marilee Rutherford believes the costs are competitive with other Albany Park establishments. Ownership didn’t want to add a surcharge like other restaurants believing this was a better way so customers and employees didn’t feel that the wellbeing of their staff was something considered optional. The menus also include a sentence explaining the brewpub’s strategy to customers.
They’ve replaced the draft system to feature a wide array of styles. They’ll also offer crowlers of beer to go. The brewery doesn’t specialize in a style of beer; ownership wants to offer something for everyone. One thing that bothers the team are “armpit beers.” That’s when a customer standing at the bar reaches over a drink poured at the bar to grab their order. The innocent beer is caught in the path of the reaching customer’s armpit. That’s why there’s a section of the bar called the “Libation Station” where there are no seats, thus mitigating the threat of an armpit beer. They’re also serving up four specialty cocktails and selections from Passion House Coffee Roasters.
The food’s a mixture of bar favorites like corn dogs with some more adventurous items. The staff raves about a Hungarian stew. Customers could order from wherever, at the counter, from their table, or upstairs while playing Killer Queen. Staff will find their customers and charge their cards even if they walk out without closing their bills out.
Take a tour through the space and check out the menus below. Twisted Hippo is now open in Albany Park.
Twisted Hippo, 2925 W. Montrose Avenue, (708) 844-7768, open 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday.