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Tim Tierney and Danny Shapiro, hosts and creators of hospitality podcast Joiners, smile at each other while sitting where they record the podcast in a West Loop building on April 18, 2024. Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Ecoglobalsociety

LOGAN SQUARE — Hanging out with friends Tim Tierney and Danny Shapiro comes with many laughs.

The two are creators and hosts of popular weekly restaurant and bar hospitality podcast Joiners, which features long-form conversations with the city's colorful chefs, restaurateurs, mixologists, food writers and more, complemented with the duo's goofy humor and playful questions.

The podcast, started in 2022, is celebrating its 100th episode Monday with special guest Stephanie Izard, a high-profile chef, TV contestant and owner of five Chicago restaurants. It's proven to be as an oral history of Chicago's close-knit hospitality community.

While the duo admits they weren't sure the project would hit 100 episodes, its consistency and the dynamic curiosity of the hosts shows the appetite for this type of hospitality documentation and what it's brought to the local restaurant world.

Tierney, of West Loop, is the co-founder of STOCK Mfg. Co., which makes restaurant uniforms; and Shapiro, of Humboldt Park, runs popular Logan Square restaurants and bars Scofflaw, The Moonlighter, Outdoor Voices, Slippery Slope and more under the Scofflaw Group.

“It's been reaffirming for me as a bar and restaurant owner of what we actually mean to people and the community,” Shapiro said. “You can lose sight of that when you're wrapped up in the day-to-day challenges, but seeing the ways the interconnectedness amongst us is is encouraging.”

Tim Tierney and Danny Shapiro, hosts and creators of hospitality podcast Joiners, decided to be goofy for a photo on April 18, 2024. Credit: Ariel Parrella-Aureli/Ecoglobalsociety

Joiners has hosted big names in the industry, including renowned Logan Square chefs and business owners like Joe Frillman from Daisies, Jasen Hammel from Lula Cafe, Katherine Duncan from Katherine Anne Confections, Jason Vincent of Giant, Billy Helmkamp of The Whistler and Sleeping Village, Samantha Lee with Hopewell Brewing and more.

While the podcast started as a “casual stroll through the world of hospitality” with a laid-back vibe, it has grown to be a listening ritual for those in the industry, the friends said. Recently, the podcast has also gained more listeners who are not in the industry but have become familiar with the show through its hosts, guests or the restaurants they frequent.

“They wake up Monday morning and whether they're driving to drop their kids off or they're heading to the restaurant for prep, they throw us on,” Tierney said. “It's connecting us and you get to hear from a friend of the industry.”

Since Tierney and Shapiro have their own ties to the hospitality world, the podcast was a natural move to highlight friends, admirable diverse chefs and iconic names all under one umbrella of what the duo called a passion project.

Simultaneously, it's also created a “living history of the city” that hasn't been done before from this lens, Tierney said.

“Over the past almost two years we've put together this honorary degree in Chicago hospitality, like we're almost Chicago historians at this point,” Tierney said. “That history is all there, but it’s not necessary uncovered.”

The podcast name came from Shapiro and is a restaurant term that fits the project perfectly, he said. Joiners means when someone joins a table reservation at a restaurant, exactly like the podcast guests.

The show is a “standing reservation for two” with a “joiner” guest every week. The show is intentionally in person with only one guest at a time and around a table to keep up the tradition, the hosts said.

After hitting the show's 100th episode, the duo are reflecting on where they want the project to go next. They are thinking about doing live podcast shows with an audience and exploring culinary video content with guests. Hosting events at culinary schools for up-and-coming chefs and mixologists to learn from veterans in the industry is also a possibility.

But before the hosts get too into their head about the future, they want to remind listeners that Joiners, at its core, is wrapped in sentimentality and fun — a necessary ingredient for the industry that's still recovering from the pandemic.

“I think it's not an easy time for bars and restaurants, and Joiners is kind of a reminder of some of the fun,” Tierney said.


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