Born and raised in the Southwest, Wade Hall McElroy graduated with a degree in sociology from Arizona State University before moving to New York in 2008. There, he found himself drawn to New York City’s dynamic hospitality community. Wade immersed himself fully in the craft of bartending, building upon his knowledge at places like The Standard, Rye House, and The Dutch before heading to Chicago in 2011 to start fresh within the city’s burgeoning cocktail scene. In Chicago, Wade joined Barrelhouse Flat’s opening team, where he met his future business partner Jeff Donahue and began the path to starting Leisure Activities. Next, Wade joined the opening team of the Trenchermen and connected immediately with its creators, Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner of Heisler Hospitality. In 2013, alongside Heisler Hospitality, Wade and Jeff opened Sportsman’s Club, a neighborhood tavern that quickly became an industry darling. Leisure Activities’ relationship with Heisler Hospitality evolved and led to partnering in 2016 on Estereo, a Latin American and Caribbean-inspired cocktail bar.
In his current role, Wade leads creative projects and business development for Leisure Activities. The team’s portfolio includes Young American, a lively neighborhood hangout with sessionable & spirit-free drinks, and Ludlow Liquors in Avondale, a neighborhood tavern with a focus on stirred cocktails that are available by the ounce. Wade was named Zagat’s ‘30 under 30’ in 2012 and named Eater Chicago ‘2014 Bartender of the Year’ alongside Jeff.