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Claim Company

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  • TheDiner Mar 22, 2006 03:39 AM
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One of my all-time favorite restaurants, the Claim Company, left its former locations that I knew of in Chicago and the suburbs. Does anyone know if it's still around anywhere? Has it ever reopened under another name in other locations? The food, service, and especially the salad bar are missed a great deal here. Thanks.

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  1. I believe they are all gone. The original in Northbrook Court was a favorite of mine as well. I still miss it. The Motherlode burger, great cottage fries, and as you point out, great salad bar.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jj

      The original was not in Northbrook Ct, it was in Lincoln Park, on Clark, and it was my very favorite restaurant growing up.

      1. re: sake

        The original was in Chicago, you are correct.

        Also, the owners, Errant Enterprises, opened Timbers in Highland Park many years ago, which is seafood based and still around. I have not eaten there recently, but recall it being good.

    2. d
      dashboard diner

      I've been waiting to try FortyOne North.
      The menu on their website lists 8 0z burger,
      bunch of bread choices, bunch of topping
      choices and "41 housemade chips" which I'm
      hoping are the same cut as at R.J. Grunts.
      The topping choices remind me of Claim
      Company, but that was only a million years
      ago. Don't remember any posts on 41 here
      or at the other Chicago site.

      41 North
      445 Skokie Blvd.
      Northbrook, Illinois
      847-753-9111

      2 Replies
      1. re: dashboard diner

        41 North is good, but not as good as Claim Company. It was formerly Friedman's (and had some connection to the Myron & Phil's crew, I believe). The menu is varied, and everything is good, but not amazing.

        1. re: jj

          41 North was started by the old manager of the Northbrook Claim Company. That's why there are some similarities. I give it a 'close but no cigar'. There's no Claim sauce!

      2. We used to love the Oak Brook one (in the space now occupied by Wildfire). They had excellent mozzarella sticks (in a wrapper that was almost eggroll-like) and, of course, the motherlode and salad bar! It was a shame when they closed their doors.

        1. Thanks so much for your responses regarding the Claim Company. I'm sorry to read that (those of you responding) believe it's gone. I really miss that place - enjoyed it so much, as did everyone I took there. What restaurants have any of you visited in recent times that are comparable (especially with salad bar creations and atmosphere)? Thanks again for your responses.

          1. I'm a former employee...

            Claim sauce was very ketchup-y with some orange juice. Mozzarella sticks were wrapped in won ton skins. Honest.

            Errant Enterprises once ran a family of restaurants that included the original Clark Street Claim Company at Clark and Belden (closed in the mid '80s), the Northbrook and Oakbrook Claim Companies, Gentleman Jim's (anybody remember that one?), Timbers CharHouse, Zarrosta's (two of these, both long gone) and America's Kitchen which opened in late 1988 in the 600 N. Michigan Ave. building. That place eventually became a Claim Company as a last gasp.

            41 North is owned by two former Errant employees, one manages the front of house and one the kitchen, hence the menu similarities.

            Jim Errant was (I think) an early partner (or maybe just a manager) of Rich Melman and took the salad bar concept from him. Melman was an occasional customer when America's Kitchen opened as he was opening Tucci Bennuch on the floor below at the same time.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Diannie

              Diannie,

              Do you happen to know the recipe for Stagecoach Chicken? It was super yummy and I miss it a ton. They had it "off the menu" a few times in 41 North's early days, but that was a long long time ago.

              Thanks!

              Laurie

              1. re: Diannie

                Hi,

                Since you are a former Claim Company employee with some detailed knowledge, perhaps you know something about a story I once heard.

                There was a restaurant called the Copper Kettle in the Vernon Hills area, which has since closed. Someone I once met claimed Copper Kettles menu and style was borrowed heavily by people who later opened 41 North. I never once stepped foot into the Copper Kettle to know if there any truth to it. I know 41 North borrowed heavily from Claim Company, do you know anything about the Copper Kettle?

                I always had the Motherlode at Claim as well as at 41 North. I wonder if I can get Stagecoach chicken today ... though I have no clue what it consists of.

                From an old 1970's Chicago restaurant guide and cookbood, there is a recipe of the Claim Company's signature sauce. It makes well over a gallon!

                Regards,
                Cathy2

                1. re: Cathy2

                  The Copper Kettle was a former Errant manager at Claim Company, Timbers and Zarrosta. He is also with the 41 North now.

                  The Stagecoach Chicken is dipped and marinated in ranch dressing, breaded with bread crumbs, pan broiled in lemon, butter and white wine and topped with sauteed mushrooms and Swiss cheese.

                  I was with Claim Company for nine years, first as a server/bartender at Northbrook, then a manager at Northbrook and 900 N. Michigan.

                  41 North is defintely owned and run by former Errant managers.

              2. Ah, the Claim Company...nice memories.

                I also have a vague memory that a Claim Company was opened in Florida. Is that right?

                1. Hey Cathy2

                  Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner. I've been spending so much more time on LTH....

                  Anyway, Steve Waples beat me to the punch, the secret ingredient in Stagecoach Chicken was just Ranch Dressing.

                  diannie

                  1. Darren72, no there was never THIS Claim Company in Florida. We use to get asked all the time if we were part of Claim Jumpers. And now they're opening at Lake-Cook and Milwaukee sometime soon.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: swapes

                      They've already opened outside of Yorktown mall on Highland Ave.

                    2. In the mid-seventies (circa 1974), Jimmy Errant opened The Chicago Claim Company on the west side of north Clark Street, at just about west Grant Place, if I recall correctly. The ambience of the multilevel original was seventies' mine shaft: dark, with indoor-outdoor carpeting on floors and walls, some exposed brick, lots of dark wood, some varnished, some naturally unfinished, like railroad ties, with cozy booths and tables of varying sizes. Early on, it was a place for trend-following types to take dates; and they were visibly resentful when whole families, including children, would arrive. The original menus were printed on over-size claim certificates, and gold pans were used to serve certain dishes, such as deep-fried appetizers (zucchini, mushrooms, huge onion rings). Later editions of the menu were silk-screened in black onto the galvanized steel pans. The restaurant was known best for its half-pound burgers, home-made cottage fries, salad bar, and its decadent warm brownie sundaes with a lot of hot fudge. A second location was opened at the Northbrook Court Mall, Northbrook, Illinois. It was located immediately to the west of the northeastern-most mall entrance. The Claim Company of Northbrook was on the upper level of the mall, which is at grade level as a result of the contoured parking lot, and it was a very short distance from Neiman Marcus, which was just to the east of the northeastern-most mall entrance. [It was not, as a Yelper posted elsewhere on the web, located in an out-lot building where Crate & Barrel is now. The restaurant that had stood once in the northwestern out-lot was James' Tavern, no relation to Errant.] The Claim Company of Northbrook was in part late-seventies-disco chic, with neon, marble, lots of glass and custom-contoured features over several levels in the bar area and in the ocean area to the north, with a more sedate mezzanine along the southern wall, parallel to a train-style dining car behind the salad bar and next to the kitchen. In the bar area, there were at least a couple of tables that had built-in video games of the day. At peak times it was not unusal for a wait to exceed an hour, and two-hour wait was not extraordinary. In fact at prime dining times, there was often a wait for a table in the bar where people were waiting for to be seated in a dining room. An extensive appetizer menu was available in the bar. It was known for the aforementioned fried items as well as potato skins with cheddar cheese, bacon, sour cream, chives, and ubiquitous claim sauce. It was very easy to consume a meal's worth or several of calories while waiting to move to the main dining area. There was at least one other location, the Claim Company of Oakbrook. There may have been others; at least, I was told there were plans for them. After the success of The Chicago Claim Company, Errant opened Jasand's in a mansion on the west side of north Clark Street near Wrightwood Avenue. Whereas the Claim Company offered a then-hip beef and chicken menu with occasional fish entrees and specials, Jasand's offerings were a bit more eclectic, although several items were carried over from the Claim Company. Jasand's became known for its hot fudge sundaes with a choice of candy bar bits mixed in long before "mix-in" entered the lexicon. The decor was what was thought to be sophisticated eighties chic, clearly influenced by the seventies deco revival. Eventually the Jasand's sundae was added to the Claim Company menus. After the Claim Company of Northbrook was established, Errant and partners opened Timbers Charhouse on Skokie Highway along Route 41 in Highland Park. Timbers was known for its barbecued meats, fish, salads, and home-made croutons. I believe only Timbers remains in operation.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: freedunit

                        I live in Highland Park and frequented Timbers and The Claim Company and I frequent 41 North now. I visited the Claim Company the day it closed its doors and was deeply disappointed to find it closed for good. I called a friend of mine who is a bankruptcy attorney and learned that he was involved in the bankruptcy filing of all of the Claim Companies and that the owners of Northbrook Court refused to permit the lease to continue so it was closed for good. My wife and I enjoy the hamburger at 41 North as it closely resembles the Claim Burger and they offer the same toppings and a choice of teriaki or barbeque sauce with the burger. It is a fine substitute.

                        On another note, my favorite hamburger of all time was the hamburger from Acorn on Oak. Another restaurant in Highland Park, Norton's, offers a hamburger called the Winkburger which has lots of seasonings and fillings reminiscent of the Acorn burger.

                        As for Timbers, another of our favorite local places, alas it also closed about 2 months ago. Jim Errant still ran the business but his interests are now primarily in Colorado. The building which housed the restaurant for over 20 years needed repairs and the staff told me that he just did not want to throw a lot of money into it so it closed and they held an auction for all of the contents. Another sad day for its patrons. Now if I can only find another place with the Timber's Boston Cream Pie, life would be better. Don

                        1. re: dlpens

                          I am former claim company prep chef..

                          As I recall, Claim sauce principly contained kethcup, Open Pit barbecue sauce, orange juice, brown sugar and vinegar. Unfortunately, I cannot remember the ratios, but I have been able to get close.

                          If you want any other hints as to how to make your favority Claim dishes, let me know.

                          I too miss the restaurant.

                          1. re: HartoMamo

                            Thank you for sharing the recipe! I had approximated my own a long time ago. The Open Pit and vinegard help. I look forward to making my own Claim sauce. What about the sundaes? In particular I would love to know the recipe for the hot fudge and the brownies.

                            1. re: freedunit

                              The hot fudge was nothing special; it came straight out of a can but we added a little coffee to thin it out. The amount of coffee totally depended on who did the adding and how many days a can lasted. The cans (#10) fit into a commercial warmer and as they warmed, the fudge got thin. The chocolate shell stuff was commercial, too.

                        2. re: freedunit

                          Hello, I am looking for a Boston Creme Pie that was sold by Tmbers Charhouse. Any ideas where to search?

                          1. re: Bostoncreme

                            Timbers made it from scratch. They supplied it to all the Claim Company restaurants.

                        3. attention all claim company fans:
                          http://www.northbrookcourt.com/html/E...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: melissawitt

                            First The Magic Pan and now Claim Company - 70's nostalgia in Northbrook. What next,, snort lines of protein powder at the Faces Smoothie Stand?

                          2. Hey!

                            My dad was the original founder of the Claim Company along with Jim E. He also did many other restaurants throughout his time in restaurant business. I was on my way to play hockey last night and passed Northbrook Court to find that the new Claim Co. has reopened. I asked my dad about this and he is most certainly bitter sweet about the whole thing. Claim Co. wasn't registered, no menu items...nothing. It's ran by a couple brothers that used to work for my pops. They did 41 north and then a place up in Highland Park.

                            Story is...and I'm sure it's true since it's coming from my dad is--these guys got all the original recipes, logos, etc etc for this place through who was my dad's partner (Jim). I wonder if they recreated the small dessert garden in the middle of the place...hmmm.

                            Anyways. Just shooting out the news since this place is most likely going to be a success for the brothers...any you all should be a part of it!

                            -Bryan Okun

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: HockeyRocks85

                              The North Shore's New Dining Darling...Motherlodes are baaaack!

                              Opening night -

                              Just finished having dinner at The Claim Company at Northbrook Court (it's on the site where The Palm was).

                              No reservations taken yet, nor is take-away done. For a relatively soft opening, on its first night, traffic was brisk. The guacamole nachos still need work. The salad bar logistics are being tweaked, i.e., need longer salad tongs with better gripping action. Concerned about traffic management as the space is rather awkward with two side (2nd floor) entrances - one outside the mall and another inside, but...

                              The Motherlode burger was spot-on!

                              The carrot cake - no nuts was remarkable! Love the menu throw-back!

                              Service was uneven. Excellent server yet woefully slow water service.

                              So nice to have you re-Claimed! Definitely will return!

                            2. Well, I never went to the original back in the 90s and earlier, but I went for lunch yesterday. The place had a huge line, and why, I don't know. For the price, the salad bar is a true rip off. Normally I would tell myself "you are paying for the atmosphere" but, the Claim Company was just a slight step above a cafeteria. Very loud and open, noise echoed as if I was sitting in a gym. Nothing on the salad bar stood out as a real winner. You would probably think that for $11.99 at lunch time, there would be soups, hot dishes, etc on the buffet. Nope. A handful of bland cold pasta salads, and no soups. Bread consisted of mini muffins and crackers. No cheese spreads for the crackers.

                              Service was ok, friendly, but aside from handing me my first plate, I was left very confused as to whether or not I should have received my second plate from the server, take up the dirty first plate, or use the tiny side plates for bread on the salad bar as my second plate for food. I never saw my server again. I never got a refill of my beverage.

                              I agree with the logistics of the salad bar in a previous review. It's crowded, cramped, short, and awkward. I will try this place ONE more time, at an off hour when it's not like being in the middle of a herd of cattle, and I will order from the menu. The salad bar, as an add on ($4) to the overly priced lunch menu items (all hovering around 10 dollars, only chips as a side are included) MIGHT be an option.

                              To the Claim Company: Please get cheese spread (pub cheese, whatever) for your crackers on the salad bar, and I would reverse this review to state "this is the best salad bar in the world". Oh, and sesame stick crackers would be a lovely treat as well.