After an electrical fire ripped through Hawthornes Biercafé last February, prospects seemed grim for the humble eatery.
Yet throughout the entire process of rebuilding the business this past year, there was never a moment when owners Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico doubted Hawthornes’ ability to rise from the ashes.
“[Quitting] just wasn’t an option,” Annechiarico said. “We didn’t get jaded, or angry, or brought down.”
True to their determination, the couple reopened for business on Jan. 11, unveiling a few new additions. Located on the corner of South 11th and Fitzwater streets, the restaurant now offers a beer-delivery service, improved fireplace and 10 counter-pressure fillers for growlers.
Thanks to the new Quick Sip service, customers can have brews delivered directly to their doors by ordering online or via cell phone. The cozy café is also offering Bloody Marys and mimosas with lunch, among other small tweaks to its gourmet-American focused menu.
Despite these changes, it was important for Annechiarico to keep the Hawthornes look, feel and customer-driven philosophy alive after reconstruction.
“We wanted to still keep it homey but we didn’t want to reinvent ourselves, because what we had before we really enjoyed,” Annechiarico said. “It was more about getting more guest service, in a better way than we did before. It was really important to understand why [customers] came before, and to not lose that but to add things that they might further enjoy.”
For Fetfatzes, creating a relaxed, family-like atmosphere has always been an important part of the Hawthornes experience.
“We excel at being really relatable with our customers,” Fetfatzes said. “It’s a really natural neighborhood spot, so we wanted to embellish on that.”
Hawthornes has managed to retain half of its original staff through the lengthy reconstruction process.
“It’s like we were never closed,” Annechiarico said. “I think the veteran staff that are here really care about the place, and they trained the new staff very well. The new staff understands what kind of place this is so they’ve kind of fallen in and really enjoyed working here so far.”
Designed by Annechiarico herself, the quaint beer café’s architecture and furnishings prove just as pleasant as ever. The new fireplace is now encased by stone with two holes on either side to house firewood, while wooden palettes adorned with flowers in mason jars occupy a few of the empty spaces on the walls.
The venue also continues to provide a wide selection of beers and liquors, housing 700 to 1,000 different bottles, depending on the day.
In the wake of the blaze, Fetfatzes said community support from customers and friends of the Hawthornes team alike was overwhelming.
“They came out every night on the streets when we were rebuilding,” Fetfatzes said. “They would say, ‘Is there anything we can do? Can we help you paint? Can we help you demo?’ It was nice that they were really supportive.”
“It’s nice to see that the guests we had before waited for us and were really excited for us to open,” Annechiarico added. “They’re as excited as we are.”
Prior to their foray into the restaurant business, Fetfatzes worked at a beer distributor and Annechiarico held a career in marketing. Aside from Hawthornes, the couple also owns The Cambridge on 1508 South St.
With five years of experience in the restaurant business and a small disaster now under their belts, the couple hopes to continue to build on the foundation that makes Hawthornes a neighborhood favorite.
“We want to perfect what we do,” Fetfatzes said. “We want to focus on really perfecting Hawthornes and making sure we surround [ourselves] with great staff who enjoy each other.”
Eamon Dreiscbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org