Welcoming all to an "open air grill for open minded people," a fictitious buxom blonde serving-up burgers opened the doors of her San Francisco Castro restaurant in 1972. Thirty-four years later, the franchise known as Hamburger Mary's has been appearing all across the country, "coincidentally" finding many of its locations in the heart of any city's gay ghetto. Though Mary seems to have had a bit of a cartoon facelift, the boobs were still big and the burgers great when brothers Ashley and Brandon Wright opened the long-awaited Chicago Mary's in the summer of 2006 to much buzz and fanfare. More recently, the brothers Wright once again garnered local attention when they announced the opening of the restaurant's second floor late night lounge, Mary's Attic, this past September.
"We wanted to bring a fun and vibrant concept to Chicago," says owner Brandon Wright (pictured with brother Ashley), "Hamburger Mary's was the obvious choice." Of Mary's Attic, Wright adds, "It's both comfortable and sophisticated. It's a great place to hang out."
The Attic's open layout is a mesh between traditional home design, sports bar and colorful camp. Flat screens throughout will play "the game" or the latest episode of Project Runway, which is back-dropped by the bright orange, blue, red and purple walls. The high ceilings consist of a powder blue and white cloud mural that's centered by a large elegant chandelier. The east end of the lounge houses a large mahogany-colored horseshoe bar followed by a handful of high top bar tables and stools. The walls are lined with plush settees, sofas and arm chairs while the building's original huge arch picture windows offer a more open and extensive view then other first-floor establishments on the block.
"The atmosphere is unmatched in comparison to any other place in Chicago," says one of the Mary's investors, George Niforatos (pictured with JP). Yet when asked if he may be biased, since he did personally take part in a lot of the upstairs renovations and design, he added, "I might be a little bit—yeah."
Adding to the Attic's fun fascia is Wednesday night "Mary-oke" hostess, "Tawdry Audrey" Middaugh. Even on its karaoke night debut, September 27, 2006, the attic was packed. The bold, blue and boisterous Middaugh belted out a soul-filled rendition of Christina Aguilera's 'Beautiful' and didn't shy away from admitting her love of donuts and Latinos. Despite the many karaoke nights in the city, Middaugh is confident hers will overtake all others promising, "Tits, ass and a genuine love for my audience however horrible their singing."
Nonetheless, with the many nightlife options of Andersonville, irregardless of atmosphere, fun times and fabulous food, an establishment under the heavy scrutiny of the region's population will have to rely on a stellar staff if they're going to make the grade. This, however, doesn't concern Attic bartender Jason Cox who feels they got it covered. Cox says, "We think the bartenders are hot."
Eat, Drink and Be Mary!
Hamburger Mary's Chicago, 5400 N Clark
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View photos from Hamburger Mary's Attic Opening by Frank Failing