In my first Lincolnwood blog, I was determined to feature businesses for which I could find images, with a few exceptions. There were also some I didn’t mention – either because they bit the dust too recently or I forgot about them. I tried to focus primarily on Lincolnwood in the first article, although I included Hollywood Kiddieland, Lincoln Village, and a few business in West Rogers Park and Edgebrook. For this blog, I expanded my scope and included additional businesses in areas of Chicago and Skokie close to Lincolnwood. I will devote an entire blog to Skokie in the near future, due to the availability of a vast number of images and more abundant information. There will also be a third part dedicated to defunct discount and department stores due to the fact this article got a little too long! In any case, when you are writing about a topic both subjective and near and dear to so many people, there are bound to be a few oversights. Thank you to everyone who responded enthusiastically to the first article … your invaluable suggestions helped me identify oversights and inspired part 2, which I present here!
This blog is dedicated to all the former Lincolnwood residents who passed away, including two guys I grew up with – Mitch Tarczynski and Ian Goldman, who I only found out about recently as a result of writing the first Lincolnwood article. A special shout out to the late Leroy Kaplan, whose daughter Roberta commented on the first article. In 1974, Leroy and Elaine founded Lincolnwood Girls Softball with Fred Hosfield. Elaine Kaplan, who was very sweet, owned Gift Motique (on Touhy east of Crawford) with her sister. Leroy supervised the Lincolnwood Girls Softball Umpires – he was a character with a heart of gold.
Restaurants & Bars
The top photo shows the fire at Allaguer’s Fireside on May 13, 1958. A known arsonist named Morris Rappaport, who lived at 6600 Harding in Lincolnwood, was the prime suspect, but not prosecuted, from what I could ascertain. He was arrested in December 1958 and sentenced to 10 years in prison for burning down a church and adjacent home in Minneapolis. The second photo shows the aftermath of a grease fire that ravaged Topper’s Drive-In on October 30, 1953. The mystery is solved why my parents don’t remember Topper’s – they didn’t move to Lincolnwood until 1959. Black and white photos courtesy of Eric Bronsky collection. Eric is a historian, urban archaeologist, and author of three books on Chicago.
Multiple people mentioned Henry’s Drive-In with their famous 15 cent hamburgers and Richard’s Drive-In on Lincoln Avenue. The Halloween-themed Henry’s ad is awesome and you have to love the prices on the Richard’s menu! I couldn’t locate the address of Henry’s.
Lincolnwood Dairy was likely in the same location as the Lincolnwood Grill, just east of Thillens Stadium.
According to a blog post I found, on Lincoln Avenue from Devon to Crawford, four restaurants served burgers: Henry’s Drive-In, Richard’s Drive-In, Jalin’s Restaurant, and Howard Johnson’s. I completely forgot about Howard Johnson’s in Lincolnwood until a reader mentioned drinking the best milkshakes ever there and others talked about it on Facebook. The Lincolnwood location changed to a Ground Round – I can’t recall ever going there. In 1969, H.B. Johnson tried a new restaurant concept called Ground Round, which proved successful for a period of time. Ground Round restaurants were company-owned and franchised, thereby increasing Howard Johnson’s company profit. I believe the last Howard Johnson’s Restaurant in the north suburban area was adjacent to a lodge at 9333 Skokie Boulevard (pictured above), which until recently was a revolving succession of moderately priced motels. Highway Host confirms there were standalone restaurants at Lincoln and Crawford in Lincolnwood and Touhy and Cauldwell in Niles – the latter corner has also seen a succession of different restaurants.
Jojo’s was another restaurant on Lincoln Avenue with good burgers, in business some years after the aforementioned hamburger joints. The help wanted ad dates back to 1973. I clearly remember going to Jojo’s on a date with Jim during my junior year in high school, which would have been 1975. He had a burger with all the fixings including onions, while I ordered a soft drink. When Joan and I took my sister Janet and her friend Leslie to the Fleetwood Mac Rumours concert at the Chicago Stadium, we ate at Jojo’s afterwards. My sister and Leslie were acting very silly – pouring ketchup, mustard, sugar and other stuff into their drink glasses. As far as I recall, that’s the last time I ate there.
Amazing how many drive-ins existed in Lincolnwood once upon a time. Sol and Florence Singer opened the Mardi Gras Restaurant, likely across from Allgauer’s, in 1953 or 1954. It was a high-end deli with gourmet dinners and also featured the first drive-thru, drive-in deli. The concept failed and the owners moved to New York, where they apparently opened a successful restaurant.
Multiple people fondly recalled working at Biasetti’s Pizza on Touhy (east of Cicero). From all accounts, Harry Ermoian was a wonderful guy, swell boss, and a tough but beloved baseball coach. Although I couldn’t find anything about Biasetti’s, I located this newspaper clipping from the Niles Bugle, circa September 20, 1973. There was a Biasetti’s in Chicago at 1625 W. Irving Park, however, I found no indications of any relationship between the two restaurants.
I am well aware Myron & Phil was an institution in Lincolnwood. I didn’t include it in the first blog because it went out of business recently. Several people mentioned it and although I never ate there, my parents dined there once or twice in their many years in Lincolnwood. While the restaurant was much beloved, it became infamous when purported ties to the mob surfaced in the early 1990s. Sadly, Myron Freedman, the 95-year-old namesake of half the restaurant died just 30 minutes before a four-alarm fire raged through the restaurant in the early morning hours of May 8, 2013. Myron’s brother Phil Freedman, the namesake of the other half died in September 2014 at the age of 90. The iconic steakhouse, which enjoyed 40 years of business at 3900 Devon Avenue was torn down three years later to make way for an Islamic learning center and mosque. On a positive note, Myron’s son Mark Freedman opened a tavern-style restaurant and bar called Wildwood Tavern at 6480 W. Touhy in Niles.
What’s Cooking was around back when Lincoln Village was an old-fashioned shopping center – before building developers butchered its charm. My parents’ neighbor Sam owned the restaurant for quite a few years, but he has been retired a long time, so I am assuming he sold it. The restaurant closed in 2012 after 42 years in business. When I worked at Bronson Coles, I remember almost being hit by flying dishes when a few busboys got into a fight and started flinging china in the narrow side alley – a few pieces sprayed out onto the front pavement.
Kow Kow Restaurant first opened its doors as a carry out restaurant on August 13, 1949 at its original location on Devon Avenue, in West Rogers Park. Four years later, owners Don Moy and his father Nathan expanded the restaurant into the adjacent store front and it became a full service dine-in restaurant. Back then, along with Kow Kow, shoppers on Devon had a wide pick of eclectic businesses to patronize such as Carol Corr, The Hang It Shop, Bud Shaibly Bowling Alley, The Adam’s Apple, The Clothes Barn, Schwartz’s, Bon-Ton, and Crawford’s.
On October 18, 1989, Kow Kow moved to the southeast corner of Pratt and Cicero in Lincolnwood. This was the prior site of an Italian restaurant called Billy’s, which opened some time after Trattoria Gallo. Gallo was the restaurant famous for a particularly garish, huge sign. I have no idea if the food was good at Billy’s or Gallo because we never ate at either restaurant. Before that it was a vacant lot, yet I also recall a small brown brick building with an insurance office on the same corner when I was very young. Kow Kow’s last day of business was May 31, 2015 – Don’s family finally convinced him to retire. People bemoaned the closing of Kow Kow and their delicious house-made egg rolls, including my family.
On the bright side, Lincolnwood Towers resident and veteran restaurateur Phil Stefani and his daughter Gina bought the property. They will tear it down and open an Italian steak and seafood restaurant. I imagine this will be a high-end restaurant with prices to match, but it’s still good news for Lincolnwood.
Whistlers was a longtime Lincolnwood favorite at 3420 W. Devon. The vast menu was similar to many other restaurants including Jack’s and Sander’s. The last time my family ate at Whistler’s was in August 2014 – the food was plentiful but nothing to write home about. The only other time I dined at this restaurant was in the summer of 1996. I know my mom went there quite a few times with several friends and she said the quality deteriorated over the years.
A lot of people mentioned Dairy Queen at 3472 W. Devon – this has been a Dairy Star for 33 years, which means Dairy Queen sold this location around 1983. This was a hangout for kids in East Lincolnwood, as I’m sure Dairy Star has been to new generations of kids. My parents always took us to 31 Flavors/Baskin-Robbins in Edgebrook. Speaking of ice cream, if I recall correctly, a Bresler’s Ice Cream opened in Lincoln Village some time in the mid-1970s, in the same spot as the Village Nut Shop – next to Bronson Coles, where I worked.
Although this popular restaurant was actually in Skokie, its close proximity to Lincolnwood made it a favorite for generations of families. It was also a hangout for kids who went to Niles West – my older sister must have hung out at Jack’s dozens of time. Jake’s Snack Shop, pictured in the middle photo (from the Chicago Tribune) opened in the 1950s. The restaurant became Jack’s when Jack Koretos and Jerry Rubin bought it in 1965. They subsequently improved and enlarged the building (thanks, Eric!). Located at 5201 W. Touhy Avenue, the restaurant operated as a 24-hour diner for most of its 50-year run. Koretos cited the smoking ban enacted by the village of Skokie in 2003 as the beginning of the end, because Niles West kids could no longer hang out and smoke there. Soon thereafter, the diner reduced its hours and closed daily at 3 pm. Koretos and his son George hung on until 2015, when much to the dismay of legions of fans, Jack’s closed its doors forever.
Some of us remember when the drinking age in Illinois was 19! When I went off to RISD in 1976, the drinking age in Rhode Island was only 18. I was never much of a drinker, yet I could hold my alcohol fairly well back then. Frankenstein on Howard in West Rogers Park was one of our favorite bars during college breaks and over the summer. Two memories stand out above all others. During winter break one year, a few of us went to Frankenstein. I talked to Maurice Dayan (an old classmate I grew up with) for a few minutes, but ended up flirting the rest of the evening with Al Smith Jr., the son of the former longtime mayor of Skokie. We corresponded during the school year and ended up going out a few times the following summer. When we started discussing politics after watching fireworks on July 4, I discovered Al was a staunch Republican and a huge fan of Philip Crane. That effectively put a mutual end to the relationship. The second memory is when a bunch of us were hanging out at Cathy’s house and they decided we should continue the party over at Frankenstein. Since I didn’t drive that night, I forgot to bring my driver’s license. I waited outside for 30 or so minutes while the other went inside – one of those dumb things I’d rather forget but will always remember!
Potpourri and Reader Picks: All on Touhy – Lucky’s, Mr. Adams, Frankel’s Delicatessen, Normie’s Delicatessen, and King Kole – a corner diner evoking an Edward Hopper painting (thanks, Stefanie!). The latter two were east of Crawford – King Kole on the corner of Crawford and Touhy and Normie’s in the middle of the strip mall. My family loved Normie’s and on the former site of King Kole is my parent’s all-time favorite restaurant Renga Tei. Prior to Renga Tei, there was another Japanese restaurant at this location called Sakura. Another reader mentioned Elliot’s Pine Log Restaurant and Lounge in Skokie which operated from 1939 to 1988 at the intersections of Lincoln Avenue, Howard Street, and Skokie Boulevard.
The Continental Savings of Lincolnwood at 6677 Lincoln Avenue is now home to the US Bank. Richard’s Drive-In was torn down to make room for the building.
Bank of Lincolnwood stood for many years on the same site as the Mardi Gras Restaurant, which is currently the Republic Bank. I think my parents had an account there, because I remember running into my freshman year Niles West French teacher Marcia Adelson at the bank.
My first bank account was at Uptown Federal Savings, however, I don’t think the Lincolnwood branch at 6820 Lincoln Avenue (just north of Pratt) was there yet. I opened the account at the Lawrencewood Shopping Center at Oakton and Waukegan. Those were the days when interest rates were something like 6.75 percent and you received nifty gifts for opening accounts! I had my Uptown account until 1988 when the bank was bought by First Nationwide Bank, which was acquired by California Federal Bank in 1997. A BMO Harris Bank branch is currently in the old Uptown location in Lincolnwood.
In December 2011, it was announced MB Financial was acquiring First National Bank of Lincolnwood at 6401 Lincoln Avenue (at Devon). The number of acquisitions in the banking industry over the years makes it hard to keep track what’s what!
Grocery Stores, Specialty Stores and Delis
Just across from Proesel Park and L. Woods, Lincolnwood Produce recently closed and is now a Binny’s. My parents loved this store, however, I wasn’t very impressed – we have so many interesting stores in our area like Valli, Wally’s and others. Kohl’s opened on December 6, 1973 and thrived here until 1981. My younger sister worked in the bakery department very briefly when she was in high school. Jerry’s Deep Discount opened in the space in 1986, a “discount retail operation, specializing in health and beauty aids” according to the Chicago Tribune. Before Lincolnwood Produce opened, it was a self-standing Osco Drug.
The photo is from a different Kohl’s in Chicago – I think there was also one in Morton Grove on Dempster. I had no idea until doing research that the grocery store was owned by the same company as Kohl’s department store. The first Kohl’s supermarket opened in Milwaukee in 1946, founded by Maxwell Kohl. A&P acquired all the grocery stores in 1983, although it was another 20 years before all the locations closed. Thanks to Eric V., who sent me additional information on Kohl’s and Red Owl, a supermarket mentioned by a few other readers.
The Lincolnwood Red Owl opened on December 14, 1959 on the northeast side of Crawford and Devon, current site of a CVS – Hall’s Rental was a longtime business there. On the same day, they opened another 17,000 square foot grocery store at 333 Ridge, Wilmette. A third Chicago-area store opened in January 1960 in Arlington Heights, according to the Chicago Tribune article, the 165th store across 10 states at that time. By May 2, 1962, there were nine locations across Chicagoland. According to the Facebook page, the Minnesota-based company operated across the Midwest from 1922 to the 1980s.
Fannie’s Deli at 4718 W. Touhy was a longtime family favorite and several readers also mentioned it. While my parents mainly shopped there in the 1960s-1970s, I fondly remember buying Warner’s chocolate licorice whips there. The only store I have seen chocolate licorice whips at in recent years is Tenuta’s in Kenosha. My parents also bought bagels and bialys at New York Bagel & Bialy at 4714 W. Touhy long before fresh, refrigerated, shelf-stable, and frozen bagels were widely available. Bialys are still a little more obscure and not available at most grocery stores. Open since 1965, it’s kind of reassuring New York Bagel & Bialy is still in business!
It’s hard to believe the south side of the 5200 block of Touhy Avenue (at Laramie) was such a mess in the 1970s. This photo, taken in 1975, shows wrecked cars across the street from where the Jewel-Osco and Foremost Liquor stood – just west of Jack’s. The Jewel-Osco moved to Village Crossing, however, I’m not certain when because the center opened in 1989, but was built in stages. At the time, I worked at a telecommunications company just east of Lehigh and there was very little to walk to other than Papa Chris’ Place and the Leaning Tower YMCA – Village Crossing was a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
I’m not certain when Cigar Country and the Party Corral went out of business, but this ad is from 1986. I remember my dad going there to buy Ben and Jerry’s and Dove single ice cream bars as well as bags of Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews.
On Facebook in particular, several Lincolnwood guys fondly recalled working at the Milk Pail and pointed out the deli was owned by someone else. Steve Brin and his father Wally owned Wally’s Deli inside the Milk Pail. Wally owned it from 1970-1986 and when he passed away in 1988, Steve purchased the Milk Pail and renamed it Wally’s Milk Pail and Deli until 1999. With partner Harry Friedman, Steve turned the establishment into a strictly-kosher deli and grocery store. Steve worked there longer than any other employee – starting in high school in 1970 through 1999! (thanks, Steve!)
Reader Picks: National grocery store, Robbie’s Deli, and the deli in Lincoln Village.
At the bottom of the ad, you can see a listing for Lincolnwood Hardware – Sam, “The Hardware Man.” There is no address in the ad – thanks to a reader for recalling the store was on Touhy east of Cicero. I didn’t mention Bain Hardware in Lincoln Village in my first article. A reader said one of the owners looked like Floyd the barber from Andy Griffith. My dad and I went there when they were going out of business and I bought this bizarre light plate. Another reader mentioned her father opened Edgebrook Hardware in 1953 on the south side of Devon. Of course the Ace Hardware has been a longtime presence in that same location.
While I couldn’t find any photos of Van Zeelt’s and the building’s charming Dutch gabled building, I did locate an ad. I believe Van Zeelt’s closed in the early 1990s. I remember taking my daughter there when she was 2 or 3-years-old for an Oktoberfest (around 1990). They served free bratwursts and soft drinks and had a swing set in front. My dad purchased and had lawn mowers and snow blowers serviced at Van Zeelt’s.
Many people spoke fondly of Orlove Drug store, which was ultimately forced out of business by Walgreens. Despite thorough research, I found nothing about this drug store – except an obituary for Arlene Orlove and a mention of Herman in a pharmacy document. Orlove was on the ground floor of a medical/dental building at Lincoln and Pratt. My own dentist was upstairs, of whom I have both fond and not so fond memories. He didn’t believe in novocaine and he smoked – so his hands smelled as he sadistically drilled and filled my very deep cavities. This was long before dentists wore gloves. At the reception desk, they had a box full of shiny gumball machine-type rings and the receptionist Annette was a real sweetheart – she always let me take more than one. Orlove was a small and straightforward pharmacy, but they had some candy and Chandler’s assignment books, which were all the rage at Lincoln Hall Junior High School. A reader recounted her salesman dad setting up Ever-So-Fresh candies displayed in bags on a rack with spindles. Another reader talked about buying Charms lollipops there for 5 cents – I did as well, but not at Orlove since I was either going to or leaving my dentist’s office!
Potpourri and Reader Picks: Galen Pharmacy (Touhy east of Crawford), Mal’s Pharmacy (Devon and Crawford/Pulaski – in Chicago), Lee’s Pharmacy (Lincoln Village), and Lincolnwood Drugs owned by Mr. Himmelfarb (on the north side of Touhy east of Cicero).
Hobbies and Sports
Numerous readers fondly recalled bowling at Gabby Hartnett at 6670 Lincoln Avenue, which later became Sy’s Bowl. The former Cubs catcher actually owned the bowling alley. Hartnett was a home run slugger, breaking several records in his 18 years as a Cubbie. In July 1958, robbers forced the night maintenance man into a washroom and stole $1000 from a locked drawer. Hartnett died of liver cirrhosis in 1972 in Park Ridge, which happened to be his 72nd birthday.
Ms. Carr took her Lincoln Hall gym classes bowling at Gabby Hartnett on more than one occasion (thanks, Joan!). Does anyone remember what Ms. Carr was infamous for doing? She threatened to rub gum in anyone’s hair who was found chewing in class, I assume due to the potential choking hazard. Lest anyone was fooled by her angelic face, one day she followed up on her threat and did this to a friend of mine in front of the entire class. If a teacher tried pulling this today, she would not only be fired, but would also likely be sued. But I digress – back to Gabby Hartnett. I was not a good bowler, but I sure had a great time at the 8th grade bowling party thrown by Patty Rosen and Andrea Linn.
Bud Shaibly Bowl was an old-fashioned alley on the second floor of the same building housing Crawford Department Store – on Devon between Western and California. There is something really cool about bowling alleys on upper floors of buildings. It must have been the summer after my first year at RISD when I briefly dated an older guy from West Rogers Park. He was a serious bowler who bowled in several leagues and attended professional tournaments as a spectator. He actually taught me a few skills and I remember getting three strikes in one game, yet I think my best score was only 129! Of course that beats the 88 I bowled in gym class.
Monty Levenson’s Pro Shop was located at 3372 Devon. I remember my mom taking my grandfather there to hit golf balls when my grandparents were visiting from Florida – likely around 1974. Those were the days before mammoth golf shops existed – ironically one of these mammoth stores recently declared bankruptcy. Monty Levenson Golf has a website, but no brick and mortar store and now specializes in customized golf products – like balls imprinted with company names.
My favorite childhood coin shop is still in business after 61 years! In 1955, Archie’s opened at 5516 Devon in Edgebrook. I had a brief obsession collecting coins inspired by my Uncle Jack who had a coin collection worth more than $1 million. When I lost interest in that, I rode my bike to Archie’s to buy antique postcards, which I still have after all these years – a collection that now includes flea market and antique store finds from all over the U.S. and Europe. Another coin shop called King Coin (thanks, Doug!) was on Touhy just east of Cicero. One of the gentlemen who worked there (owner?) was sweet, but the other one was nasty so I never set foot in there again after a bad experience.
Just north of Lincolnwood in Skokie, Sunset Drive-In opened in 1955 and closed in 1977. It was a typical drive-in with a concession stand and playground beneath the screen. Located just north of Touhy and south of the Metropolitan Sanitary District of Greater Chicago water filtration plant – you could always smell the distinctive fumes of sewage driving by. I remember going there at least once with my entire family, but never went there on a date or with friends.
Anyone remember Marine World on Devon … or the business directly across from it – Turner North Men’s Clothing? Marine World was in business from 1968 to 1998. Thanks to owner Don Sporleder for scanning and sending me snapshots from the opening on Saturday, October 12, 1968. Don mentioned he still operates on a smaller scale, servicing aquariums in people’s houses.
Reader’s Picks: Several people mentioned Devlin Bowl, which was apparently at Devon and Lincoln, behind the bank (First National Bank of Lincolnwood?) Another reader mentioned several Rogers Park businesses – Libby and General camera stores on Devon and Hobby Models on the northeast corner of Devon and Western.