Neil Byers, owner of Horse Thief Hollow Restaurant and Brewing Co., has been named winner of the 2015 Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award. The Southwest side restaurant and brewery was identified as a fast-growing business with a strong philanthropic connection that represents the spirit and values of the late Chicagoland Chairman and business leader, James Tyree. Cheers, Neil!
“I am completely honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award from the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. The reality is that this is an award for the Beverly neighborhood as much as it is for Horse Thief Hollow. Without the support of the community, I would not be in the position I am today,” Byers said.
Byers, a 32-year-old resident of Chicago, opened the brewpub located in the historic Beverly neighborhood in February 2013. The menu offers an eclectic mix of Southern Gastropub and casual American fare. Horse Thief’s beers feature the finest fresh-milled barley, local yeast and hops sourced from the Midwest. Byers and Brewmaster David Williams were awarded twice in 2014 for their beers, first at the World Beer Cup and later at the Great American Beer Festival.
Byers plans to use the $25,000 prize to expand the brewery and aims to have his beers distributed throughout Chicagoland in early 2016.
“The award cut the money I needed to raise for the expansion nearly in half. Tap handles and new tanks are now on order. Everything is coming together quickly as we finalize the details for our future” adds Byers.
Rooted in community, Byers prefers to locally source ingredients when possible and is proud to employ over 40 local residents. He is very close with the local art community, supporting both the Beverly Arts Center and the Beverly Arts Alliance. Every quarter, Horse Thief displays a gallery of local works, providing free space for artists to showcase their items. He also works closely with local small artisanal businesses like Jimmy James Sweet Potato Pie, Hardboiled Coffee Co., Sweat Freaks Chocolate Co., Wild Blossom Meadery and more.
“We have a multitude of great local businesses, artists and musicians on the South Side. By collaborating on ideas we can create better products and reach a wider audience. It is my goal to help bring the recognition of all Chicago for all of us,” shares Byers.
One example of their community support is the annual “Summer Swelter” outdoor party, which will be held this year on Saturday, July 25 from 6 – 9 p.m. Summer Swelter will feature a food collaboration with Chef Graham Elliot, music from Environmental Encroachment and beer by Horse Thief Hollow, Revolution Brewing, One Trick Pony, Marz Community Brewing and Imperial Oak. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Beverly Area Arts Alliance, a non profit art “co-op” that started over a year ago in the Southwest Chicago neighborhood.
Horse Thief Hollow was one of 70 applicants for the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce James Tyree Emerging Business Leadership Award. Contestants participated in rigorous elimination rounds featuring a two minute presentation until the final 12 were selected and then put to the test by a panel of Chicago business owners including former James Tyree Emerging Business awardees. The winner was announced at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting.