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Feb 6, 2003 08:42 PM

Peter Lo's in Chicago...Still There?

  • c

I used to eat at Peter Lo's (on Division? Diversey?) in my misspent it still there? What a wonderful Chinese eating experience.

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  1. I had been wondering about Peter Lo’s also. Reportedly it was one of the first Mandarin restaurants in Chicago (I think it opened in the early 1960s). The Peter Lo’s I remember was on Lincoln, maybe in the 6000’s. I thought it was pretty good at the time but haven’t eaten there for ages. I think it might be out of business now but I believe it was listed in the phone book as recently as five years ago. I’m not familiar with the location on Division or Diversey. Was that maybe its original location? Do you remember anything more about it or what years it was there? I could be wrong but I think Peter Lo’s was at the Lincoln location at least from the mid-1970s to mid-1990s.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Rene G

      You're probably right, it's been nearly 20 years since I was there. But oh how I loved Peter Lo's~and Peter himself, and his wife! I remember taking a large party of friends to the restaurant for a private evening; we ate an enormous banquet, 3 tables of us with identical 12-course dinners served at each table...this would have been 1978 or one save a few former New Yorkers in the group had ever eaten such glorious food. *Sigh* I ate there hundreds of times, until I moved away from Chicago in 1980.

      1. re: Cristina

        The Peter Lo's on Lincoln Near Kimball/McCormick is now called Little Hunan - an (I don't know the word) effuviently friendly hostess/owner who greets you as if a long lost relative and really good food. No glam decor but really good food.

        1. re: Madd

          This is an old posting, but there is a reason for my getting involved: after over 30 years, I've lost Peter Lo. Here's the info for the past 33 years:
          The first restaurant I knew of was on Paulina north of Howard (called the Jungle).
          He moved to Lincoln near McCormack across from the shopping center.
          He then sold the restaurant and his name, and, I guess, had a no compete provision, so he disappeared for quite a while.
          He reopened in Highland Park under the name Panda, Panda (great as always).
          My problem is that he's now closed and I don't know what happened. He's up in years and his health has been marginal for years.
          If anyone knows what happened, please let me know.

          1. re: Henry Browne


            The daughter - I believe her name is Rose - is running this operation. Often her Father is present but it is obvious his health is marginal.

            This is a small place with a few courtesy tables because emphasis is on take out.

            You are not alone tracking this family and their restaurant business. While I was waiting for my meal a customer came in, recognized them and started listing all their former locations.

            Glad I could so easily help you with your quest.


            Yu's Szechwan
            822 Central Ave.
            Highland Park, IL 60035

            1. re: Cathy2

              so where can i find the peter lo family tradition now?

              i too was a lover of his food, from peter lo's on the north side

              to panda panda in highland park

              but i have lost track

              i can honestly say that

              i have never

              even in asia

              had better

              god how i miss so many things when i think of that experience

              from the dumplings

              to the kung pao chicken

              to the whole fish

              can anyone help?

              1. re: Jim Walker

                I am standing in the former Panda Panda space in Highland Park and I am very pleased to say that Rose and papa Peter are all happy, healthy and in fine spirits. We all miss Peter's food and I can tell you that Rose still cater events with his food more than in mind.

                We have used them for events and you can reach her at 847-471-7330. The food will take you back to the old days and frankly there still is nothing better outside of China!

    2. Dear Cristina and all others on this thread,

      It was great to Google "Peter Lo Mandarin Chicago" and find this discussion of my grandparent's restaurant, years after they sold it in the late 1980s.

      My name is Tina. I'm the daughter of Rose--whom you would have known if you had ever visited Peter Lo's or Panda Panda in Highland Park--and the granddaughter of Chef Peter Lo and Betty Lo.

      Just to clarify, my grandparents owned only three restaurants: Chinese Teahouse, Peter Lo's, and Panda Panda. They were never involved in Little Hunan, and Yu's Szechwan was, I believe, a venture that my mother entered on her own. (Will update as I confirm more.) And Henry Browne was almost right in surmising about the non-compete. When they signed the papers to sell Peter Lo's, my grandparents didn't know that they were also selling the name of their business. So, sadly, my grandfather's name was associated with the dismal decline of that restaurant in the years after the sale.

      I wanted to let you all know that my grandfather died this past Friday, March 29. The funeral service will be tomorrow, Tuesday, April 2 at the Oehler Funeral Home in Des Plaines. For more information, kindly call the funeral home at 847-824-5155.

      I'm proud to know that there are at least a couple generations of Chicagoans who had a chance to experience my grandather's cooking and who remember the food even now. Thanks for all your patronage all those years.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mixolydian

        A quick follow-up. As I noted in my earlier post, my grandparents, Peter and Betty Lo, owned just three restaurants in and around Chicago.

        Chinese Tea House was the first Chinese restaurant in Chicago to serve Mandarin cuisine. My grandparents opened it in 1968 and were involved in operating it until approximately 1972.

        Between 1972 and 1985, they owned and operated Peter Lo's Mandarin Restaurant. After it was sold (along with the business name, "Peter Lo's," sadly), our family persuaded my grandparents to take early retirement and enjoy the fruits of their labor. By then, they had worked for over twenty years in the restaurant business and had rarely taken any days off. We sent them off to a sunny locale...but within months, they were back. They weren't suited for retirement, they said.

        So, in 1986, they opened Panda Panda Szechwan Restaurant in Highland Park, where they welcomed old customers from the Peter Lo days, and developed relationships with hundreds of new ones. Panda Panda closed in 2003.

        I guess the restaurant itch is a hard one to shake. After Panda Panda closed, my mother, Rose, really missed seeing customers and being in the food business, so she and Chef Jiang, the former head chef at Panda Panda, bought Yu's Szechwan, a take-out eatery. They operated it only for a short while, and while my grandparents were frequently there, they were there as supporters...and retired ones, at that!

        If you're reading and have ever eaten at any of these restaurants, many thanks, again, for your patronage.

        1. re: mixolydian

          As someone who grew up on Panda Panda, I have always craved the Kung Pao beef, mongolian beef, and many other dishes that I was able to enjoy there for years. I've never had a Kung Pao that was as good. Is there any chance of ever publishing a cookbook? Panda Panda was, in my mind, the perfect Chinese restaurant.

      2. Dear Cristina and others on this thread.

        I was very sad to hear that your grandfather, Peter Lo, passed away last year. My first introduction to really good Chinese cooking was with my parents at Peter Lo's restaurant on Lincoln in the 1970s. It was amazing and opened a whole world to me of delicious Asian cuisine. I am right now on a work trip in Beijing, and I thought of Peter Lo's when I had a delicious (and spicy) hot and sour soup last night. I Googled his name to make sure I have it right, as I wanted to email my parents to thank them for taking me to Peter Lo's and introducing me good Mandarin cooking. I was delighted to see this email thread. Thanks to you and your family for my good memories. Best wishes, Betsy Otto