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Jul 16, 2003 06:04 PM

Restaurants and Bars with Clever Names (moved from Chicago)

  • r

I tried to restrain myself, really I did, but all those wok puns got me thinking of other Chicago restaurants and bars with “clever” names. This is from something I posted to chi.eats several years ago. A number of these establishments have since gone out of business (wonder why?).

Owners of hot dog stands seem especially fond of puns. Examples are First National Frank (was near McCormick Place; you ordered your hot dogs at teller’s windows), Relish the Thought (Halsted), Wiener’s Circle (Clark), Dog Day Afternoon (Belmont), Wiener and Still Champion (Evanston), Mustard’s Last Stand (Evanston), and Wiener Takes All (some other suburb).

Back in Lettuce Entertain You’s salad days, cute names were obligatory. I think Jonathan Livingston Seafood was their second restaurant and Lawrence of Oregano was their third.

A deli in Skokie goes by the name of Barnum & Bagel. Even worse is the Loop bakery, My Favorite Muffin (LaSalle). Other bakeries are Cake Walk (Pulaski), Bake for Me (Roosevelt), and Hot Cakes (Dayton).

There are quite a few Thai restaurants with "clever" names. I can think of My Thai (too many in Chicago), Thai-Rific and Bow Thai.

Chinese restaurants aren’t immune: there’s China Doll (Wells), Wok’n’Roll (53rd) and Mandar-Inn (Wentworth).

Names containing "Inn" are very tempting. The Come Back Inn (Melrose Park) comes to mind. We also have Drift Inn (Western) and Squeeze Inn (65th). At least Chicago doesn’t have a Dew Drop Inn (I hope). Along these lines, there was a place in Seattle, Peter’s Inn. The exit door was marked with a sign, "Peter’s Out."

I’m sure lots of cities have coffee shops named Uncommon Grounds. There’s one in Chicago (on Grace).

I don't know if owners of hot dog stands or bars love awful names more. I think the matter merits some serious research.

I always liked the Lizard Lounge. Chicago's may be gone but I'm sure there are many others (I think even Paris has one).

El-Kees is at the corner of Elston and Keeler but it's a better name than that. Then there's Tuman's Alcohol Abuse Center on Chicago and Leavitt.

Maybe the most tasteless name was Rest In Pieces on Western, right across from the cemetery (the bar is now gone, RIP). Also on the northwest side is Sit-n-Bull, just a regular place on Pulaski.

Ginger's Ale House (Ashland), Pour House (Southport), Clark Bar (guess), and Club Foot (Augusta) are moderately clever but probably not even close to original.

I'm not sure which name is worse, Mugs Bunny (far south side) or Stocks and Blondes (financial district).

Enough already! Please forgive me.

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  1. d
    David Hammond


    You mention the second and third Lettuce Entertain You restaurants. I believe the first was The Great Gritzby's, which had, as I recall, huge vats of flavored cream cheese as the main attraction (hey, it was the late 70's -- I can hardly imagine a more fitting culinary reflection of the cultural milieu).

    3 Replies
    1. re: David Hammond

      I had my Lettuce history a bit mixed up. According to their website the order was:

      R J Grunt’s (1971)
      Fritz That It (1973)
      Great Gritzbe's Flying Food Show (1974)
      Jonathan Livingston Seafood (1975)
      Lawrence of Oregano (1976)

      1. re: Rene G

        Although I thought I read once that Fritz That's It was actually first, and they made RJ Grunt's officially the first so that they could refer to it in PR as the first LEYE restaurant.

        Sort of like the Saturday Evening Post being founded by Ben Franklin (60 years after his death) or Marlene Dietrich's debut in The Blue Angel (I've seen one of her pre-debut films).

      2. re: David Hammond

        Do you remember what The Grill on the Alley i Chicago Michigan Avenue Westin Hotel was called back in 1976?

      3. You are forgetting the bar on Halsted with the name almost too wicked for a family message board like this: The Man Hole.

        1. My all-time favorite was a hot dog stand named "Eat it and beat it!". I think it is or was located somewhere in the western suburbs.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Artie

            I was about to post that I recalled an "Eat it and Beat it" on the near NW side. Always reminded me of Fernwood 2Night and Happy Kyne's (of the Mirthmakers) "Bun and Run". I'm thinking it was in the vicinity of Augusta/Ashland? It's been a while and I'm easily addled these days, so I could be wrong.

          2. On Lincoln Avenue just off of Eastwood in the early 70's when the Greeks were moving in, there was a gyros-sandwich shop called "Grill Broil". Also on Clark, south of Chicago Ave., there was a bar which was called something like "Eat and Drink".

            3 Replies
            1. re: JoanB

              The bar was called "Stop and Drink".

              1. re: Artie

                Yikes--must have had food on my mind--that's what I meant to say!

              2. re: JoanB

                Actually, I think it was "Stop and Drink". I went in there once in my youth. It was too much for me, they had the biggest selection of pickled pork products in amazing, not-found-in-nature colors that I have ever seen.

              3. Quite a list, sir. To add to two of your genre's, there's the Peek Inn on Irving Park and, of course, we should not overlook Hot Doug's.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Aaron D

                  And the Bob Inn at Fullerton near Rockwell.