This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Mark Liberson, President of LKH Management, and owner of Replay and Elixir restaurants. At Replay Andersonville, you are invited to unwind and enjoy delicious food and beverages and leave feeling better than you did when you arrived. With 22 vintage video arcade games, and over 20 craft beers on draft. Elixir, which is right around the corner, is an inviting intimate lounge that celebrates the ‘art of cocktail.’ You can visit Replay at 5358 N Clark, and Elixir at 1509 W Balmoral.
“Don’t be afraid to know what you don’t know. The strength of a business and it’s future has less to do with the individual and more to do with the team. And, always enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, do something else because you’re not doing the right thing. Have fun!”
Listen to Episode 82 with Mark Liberson!
Here are some references from Episode 82 that you may want to check out:
- Mark has been in the hospitality industry almost his entire professional life, first working for Levy Restaurants and Hilton Hotels. He decided to venture out on his own, beginning with creating a Chicago-based magazine called You Are Chicago with big events, where he met lots of people in the club scene who encouraged him to open his own club, so he did. He decided that if he was going to open his own club, he would create something for the gay community, and thus Hydrate Night Club was born in 2002.
- Opening his first night club, Mark learned how, on a deeper level, the gay community is exciting and diverse. They appreciate when you appreciate them, especially when one is supportive of the things that are important to them. One of the priorities during opening Hydrate was to support the gay community through philanthropy, sports, and social endeavors – to do more than provide simply a night club. This practice continues to this day. Mark’s businesses sponsor many events, with specific focus right now on opening a dental clinic in partnership with Howard Brown on the North Side for those who don’t have access to insured dental care. He remarks that many people may have health insurance but not dental, and that dental health is vital to overall health. There is a Howard Brown dental clinic on the South Side, but the North Side needs one. Fundraising is underway, and if you’d like to support you can do so here.
- Replay and Elixir also have locations in Boystown/Lakeview. Mark chose Andersonville as a second location because he loves the area, and used to walk through often when he lived in Uptown. With Replay, he aimed to bring a place to go, have great food, watch sports, and play games. Then he added Elixir, the lounge, an upscale, premium craft cocktail alternative. Patrons can access each business through each other. The same being true of the Lakeview locations (Hydrate/Elixir).
- In Boystown, Elixir is currently decked out for Halloween as Diagon Alley from Harry Potter. Elixir Lakeview is unique and reflects the unique managing, with a different style. Unique to Andersonville, Elixir features recurring music programming. The first Monday features two drag queens singing a la Alexis Bevels and Dixie Cartwright – they are so talented and funny! We discovered them at Midsommarfest. Watch the windows and table-tops for promos.
- In Andersonville, there are so many families in the neighborhood, which led them to come up with a schedule similar to a swimming pool of “adult swim” and “kids swim.” Everything is clear on the website, and it has worked well. And of course, they are always dog friendly on the patio. Replay offers many different ways to draw a diverse audience, with one example being they brought in the sous chef from Girl and the Goat. They really want their space to be a reflection of Andersonville, where everyone is welcome and can have a good time.
- On to video games. Mark, a video game fanatic, tries to pick the most popular games available for Replay. As a kid, he demanded quarters from his dad and escaped to the arcade. It’s so fun to watch adults teach their kids the games they loved…only to lose to their kids! And younger generations, who weren’t exposed as kids, but enjoy it. All the video games are free, by the way! Galaga is one of Mark’s favorites. Other machines that are fan favorites are Ms. Pacman, Donkey Kong, a Star Wars game and pinball games. They also have driving games. (Which coincidentally, is how Laura learned how to drive.)
- Back to food menu, Replay’s menu was recently updated, featuring guest chef Dirk Flanigan, most recently of The Gage. Mark has known him for years, and knew that his style along with Replay executive Chef Bernardo would work well together. They’ve brought together great flavors, a few favorites being curry ribs, a curry cauliflower appetizer (which was featured during Taste of Andersonville). They offer new vegetarian dishes, new hamburgers. New items are printed in red on their menu.
- Favorite cocktails at Elixir created by their mixologist, who can create on the fly – you don’t have to order off the menu. Watch for a new menu this fall in Andersonville, and right now at Elixir in Lakeview they are featuring their Harry Potter inspired cocktails.
- Being a seasoned bar and restaurant entrepreneur, Mark sees the industry as remaining competitive, which means that it’s important to be constantly moving forward and keeping everything interesting and fresh. The industry has become more accessible to more people, which creates another level of competition because there are more options. He sees Andersonville as a shining star because of all it offers with retail, dining options and more. Mark is dedicated to the advancement of both Lakeview and Andersonville neighborhoods, sits on the Board for both Chambers, and is proud of the efforts of their efforts.
- Mark’s biggest piece of advice to a young entrepreneur looking to get into the bar/restaurant business: Run for your life! Hahaha! No, it is this – Don’t be afraid to know what you don’t know. The strength of a business and it’s future has less to do with the individual and more to do with the team. And looking back, advice to himself 17 years ago would be to relax and enjoy. Always enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, do something else because you’re not doing the right thing. Have fun!
- Mark has traveled all over the world with the mantra “see it before you leave it.” He’s planning an upcoming event in Puerto Vallarta. He has also loved Singapore, night club parties in Bangkok, street food tours in Vietnam, opera in Sydney to name a few. He has experienced amazing night club parties while traveling with DJ and producer Ralphie Rosario (grammy-nominated, has a street sign in front of Hydrate) in Bangkok when he was spinning with Abel. Combined to be “Rosabel.” Looking forward, Mark has plans to visit South African wine country.
- If Mark had the opportunity to switch places with another Andersonville business for a day it would be George’s Sweets and Treats, for all the wrong reasons! He’s a chocolate ice cream fanatic! But, it’s hard to pick just one, he would also love to walk into the shoes of Women & Children First and Vincent, Calo, so many. But truly, he enjoys them as they are and loves being a guest. If he could do anything else with his life, he would go into law. As a lawyer, maybe he could make a difference in society.
Find Replay and Elixir in Andersonville on the following platforms:
Online: replayandersonville.com and elixirandersonville.com
Support Howard Brown’s Dental Health Program: howardbrown.org/donate-dental