During the last two winters, Open Outcry Brewing Co. has constructed small “domes” on its rooftop to give customers a unique way to dine and drink in a comfortable setting while surrounded by cold, snowy weather.
This year’s rooftop enclosures, dubbed by owner John Brand as “Dome Life 3.0,” are now up.
Brand hired local carpenter Ben Schlitz, with whom he’s previously partnered, to construct four wooden shelters, and they opened on the weekend of Oct. 9.
Schlitz was excited to take on the project.
“I love it,” Schlitz said. “I only live a couple blocks away. It’s nice. John’s super-easy to work with. He’s like the local hero.”
The new structures measure about 10 feet by 10 feet. Local institutions Morgan Park Academy (MPA), Marlo Salon and The EP Podcast from Evergreen Park are each customizing a unit free of charge, with Open Outcry decorating the fourth.
In 2018, the domes were igloo-like; last year, they were similar to a greenhouse.
This year’s version consists of wooden panels that are fastened together, with the roof providing added stability. Schlitz added a spray insulation and double-paned windows to provide additional warmth.
The shelters are modular designs, Schlitz said, and can be easily installed and taken down. Brand said they will be a seasonal amenity and, just like previous domes, available until just before the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade in March.
“You can break these things down like a puzzle,” Schlitz said. “You can basically assemble one of these things in an hour, and break it down [in an hour].”
Schlitz said the shelters have an “old-school, homey” feel, and Brand quipped that the theme is “grandmother’s basement in 1985.”
Brand, who opened his brewery at 10934 S. Western Ave., in 2017, said the project is another example of local business working together.
He already planned on installing “Dome Life” this year, and it became a more urgent with restaurants required to use outdoor dining during the ongoing pandemic.
“Each year, we’ve tried really hard to make incremental improvements to the guest experience,” Brand said. “This year was no different.”
MPA officials were busy on Oct. 9 decorating their space with memorabilia from Alumni Hall, the school’s historic building that many say resembles a set from the “Harry Potter” movies. Old photos of Alumni Hall adorn the walls, as well as school pennants.
Allie Bowles, who works in MPA admissions and marketing, said she is grateful for the relationship with Open Outcry.
“Since they’ve opened, they’ve been huge supporters of MPA,” Bowles said. “They always contribute to our fundraisers. We’ve done a couple events together with them.”
Schlitz also helped Open Outcry build a carryout space this spring, another valuable amenity during the pandemic.
Brand knew he could again count on Schlitz for this year’s version of “Dome Life.”
“We wanted,” Brand said, “to take it to the next level.”