Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Berghoff Restaurant, Chicago - It's closing


wigs21
 Share

Recommended Posts

From the AP piece, in today's Tribune, linked above:

The owners of the Berghoff Restaurant say the Chicago institution will close next year after more than 100 years in business.

Herman and Jan Berghoff today say the Berghoff Restaurant, Berghoff Cafe and Berghoff Bar will close on February 28th. . .

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More from the Tribune staff:

The place was the first in Chicago to legally serve alcohol after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933; it holds city Liquor License No. 1. The current owners took over the operation in 1986, CLTV reported.

The owners gave no explanation for today's announcement except to say it was time for them to move on with their lives. The Berghoff Cafe at O'Hare International Airport will remain open.

Berghoff says 'auf wiedersehen'

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

First Marshall Field's, now The Berghoff.  What's this world coming to?  :sad:

WTF! They're leaving the airport eatery open and closing the historic gem on Adams? As Macy's will never get one thin dime of my money -- in fact, I would not shop there if they threw cash at me!-- neither will I dine at the O'Hare Berghoff.

I'm very, very sad about this. My very first meal in Chicago was at the Berghoff, and later our daughter sat in her infant seat on the bar while we ate corned beef hash sandwiches and the bartenders chucked her cheeks and fed her pretzels. It was always so lovely at Christmastime....

Damn Damn Damn.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bummer ...

I think the Berghoff was the only downtown Chicago restaurant we ever ventured to when I was in college there, a couple of generations ago. :smile: I still think about the place often, and wish there was something like it near me (I was taken to a German restaurant recently somewhere in the D.C. suburbs ... in a strip mall ... old guy singing German drinking songs, accompanying himself on an electric keyboard ... the waitresses were German folk- costumed ... but they all were speaking - Spanish).

Marshall Fields becoming Macy's - a double blow. When my parents drove me out to Chicago the beginning of my freshman year, they took me to tea at the Walnut Room.

:sad:

I think I'll just go swill a cup of Geritol now...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Marshall Fields becoming Macy's - a double blow.  When my parents drove me out to Chicago the beginning of my freshman year, they took me to tea at the Walnut Room.

:sad:

I think I'll just go swill a cup of Geritol now...

Make it a double, dear Melic. We ate lunch every year under the tree in the Walnut Room, and ordered the Snowflake Special, with a glass of sherry for the grown ups.

The story mentions that a Berghoff daughter is going to use the space for her catering biz. I wonder if the general public will be able to gaze at the murals of the Columbian Exposition? I've had a couple of hours to digest this, and I'm miserable. The surly octenegarian waiters dressed like crows in black and white, like Edward Gorey characters risen from the page, or the grave. The creamed spinach---gone. The best fried potatoes ever, gone. (I once peeped over the pass and saw the cooks patiently browning them in butter in deep pans.) And how I'll miss the smack of the plate of rye bread hitting the bare wood table.

And the best twelve buck lunch in Chicago: the Wienerschniztel platter, with the above mentioned creamed spinach and fried potatoes. They used to sell a bourbon, "Berghoff 14"that I'd haul through O'Hare on the way to Montreal to give to my Daddy.

And then there were the steamed puddings with custard sauce. I'll stop now, because the B is so much of my personal history that I might blubber. Lord knows it was never the best restaurant in Chicago, but it was authentic. What's next? Are they gonna tear down the Monadnock or the Rookery?

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As Rich Melman points out, the building and business are worth a fortune. Why does Carolyn need to locate her catering company there? :shock: If she does not want to run the Berghoff, then sell it to someone who will. I sell real estate--I'll help her find a new location for her catering biz as a service to the city.

S. Cue

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Still more on this sad story in today's Tribune:

Under the family's plan, Artistic Events by Carlyn Berghoff Catering Inc. will take over the building this winter. She will rename the bar 17 West at The Berghoff and reopen the adjoining cafe but reserve the dining room--cloaked in rich oak and graced with pictures of old Chicago--for private, catered events.

Artistic Events hasn't determined what if any changes will be made to the building's exterior, including its landmark sign, said Jennifer Connelly, a spokeswoman for the company.

Historic Berghoff to close

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I first ate at the Berghoff when women were not allowed in the Stand Up Bar! Every Friday we had lunch there and had the fish sandwich and a beer. This was preperation for the train ride home. The train I took home in the evening had a Bar Car and left at 5:15. If you wanted a seat in the Bar Car, you needed to arrive at 4:30pm. Otherwise you could purchase a beer in the Bar Car and take it back to another car or bring a beer from the Station.

I will certainly miss the place!-Dick

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It really is mystifying that the family would close/convert this great institution, beloved by generations of Chicagoans, in this way. I can understand selling -- if they want or need the money for the business and/or the land -- but not this. If the senior Berghoffs want to retire and their daughter doesn't want to run the place as is, why not either sell or bring in a management company?

It's a great pity. We've already lost Eli's this year, and are about to lose Trader Vic's (though perhaps not permanently).

I bet lots of people figured that the grand old places like these would always be there. Visit your favorite institutions while you still can.

(Spinach fans: Try the spinach at Lawry's. I always thought it was a toss-up between these two restaurants for best Chicago creamed spinach. Now it won't be.)

LAZ

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I mis-reading the press reports, or is Carlyn Berghoff the villain in this story, destroying a beloved landmark and on-goingly profitable and popular esablishment solely for the aggrandizement of her personal catering business?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Am I mis-reading the press reports, or is Carlyn Berghoff the villain in this story, destroying a beloved landmark and on-goingly profitable and popular esablishment solely for the aggrandizement of her personal catering business?

I don't know about "villain" but it certainly doesn't sound like a very good business decision.

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:sad:

I guess I'm glad that the building will still be in the family and will still be used in a foodservice capacity by a family member.

I guess I'm glad that the place won't be bought by an outsider -- or worse, a chain -- and turned into a pale shadow of itself, shilling ersatz-Deutsch-essen endlessly to tourists who'd have no way to know the difference between the fake and the hearty, quintessentially-Chicagoan reality.

I KNOW I'm glad that the Berghoff was so much a part of my early life -- used to get in there once a week, or once a month, as the exchequer allowed, when I worked in the Loop. (Now that I'm not Loop-based, it's more like once a year.) There was a period in the middle 80's when that was my regular Friday night treat: a book and a happy evening dining and reading in the downstairs dining room at the Berghoff.

But damn all, I am seriously not glad that the family's personal decision is going to take a cherished chunk of Chicago history away from the people who have respected and loved it. I wish there could be some other resolution that honors the Berghoff family's need for downtime after so much wonderful work AND honors over a century's tradition.

I'm with you, Maggie: Damn. Damn. Damn.

:sad:

Me, I vote for the joyride every time.

-- 2/19/2004

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's always sad to see a landmark close or morph into something else (a la Marshall Field's), but the I don't think the food at The Berghoff is all that good. When I ate there a few months back, the food seemed devoid of any passion whatsoever; almost like what I would expect at an Epcot "German-Themed" restaurant. As with the Walnut Room, I think the memories are probably better than the current realities. Sorry if I'm cold and unsentimental; perhaps I'd have a different take if I didn't grow up elsewhere. I also think the media coverage of this "closure" is way overblown, especially since it seems as though part of the restaurant will live on (what a PR coup).

I do feel very bad for The Berghoff's employees, many of whom have been there for a loooooooong time and may not have the easiest time finding work.

Perhaps The Berghoff is one of those Chicago institutions I just don't "get," like deep-dish pizza and Billy Goat Tavern's burgers. :huh:

OK, bring on the attacks...I can take it!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I won't attack, but will gently point out that a restaurant (especially a landmark "institution" restaurant) is about way more than its food. I haven't been around for the hundred-odd years that The Berghoff has, but I'll venture to say that the food is probably just as good now as it's always been. Or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Today's NY Times article mentioned a few other long gone institutions including Don Roth's Blackhawk, home of the spinning salad bowl, where I hung out in the late '60's, my McDonald's years when they were headquartered at LaSalle and Wacker. It was over a scotch and soda at the Blackhawk's bar that I watched man first walk on the moon. But I digress.

As soon as I saw the article I knew that sometime before February 28th I'll make it to Chicago for a final meal or two at Befghoff's.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity to eat at Berghoff's.

It was about ten years ago when I took my first vacation to Chicago. I remember eating dinner at Berghoff, and then going to hear the Chicago Symphony later. All that on my birthday. Boy, it was a big place!

Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sometimes a sudden and swift ending is better than 'morphing'. I have been sick about Marshall Field's morphing into Macy's; I took the girls there to see the store windows for the last time. P'raps they'll try to approximate the show next year, but we won't go. Changing hands and management would only wilt and erode the backbone that gave Berghoff's its air.

If Dairy Queen Buys out Margie's Candies I'm sure as hell not going back!

The Murals are a shame though, no way around it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

I was going to say this the other day, but someone beat me to it before I could get myself registered as an eGullet member: the food at the Berghoff has BLOWN for as long as I've been in Chicago (10 or so years). Every meal there has been a disappointment, save a quick and tall pastrami sandwich from the lunch line.

Not to say that I hate the place: far from it. The beautiful old bar has seen a lot of faces come and go, and it's a great place to stop for a beer on a warm summer night on the way home from work. It is a Chicago institution, and the waiters, appropriately surly, are the real thing.

But the food? Sloppy, lukewarm, tepid, riding on its reputation for many years now. I, for one, am happy to be left with just the sandwiches, the bar, and a new generation of better food preparation!

Expressa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...