I mentioned a few restaurants in past articles, but these were the places I liked and frequented either with family members or friends:
My uncle Gene liked to eat at Peter Pan's on North and Harlem avenues (Elmwood Park), so whenever his daughter (my cousin Linda) came to visit my family, Gene would take Linda and me to lunch at this restaurant. Gene and I had an affinity for the greasy fries and cheeseburgers, and I'll always insist that Peter Pan's served the best when it came to fries and cheeseburgers.
Gossage Grill, on North Avenue west of Harlem in River Forest, was a favorite hangout for late-nighters because the place was open until the early hours of the morning. The food was OK, but there was always a chance a fight would occur among those who were not sober.
One night around 11, I was in the place with my friend Roger and an altercation took place between a guy named Walt and another guy named Bob. The latter was eating a sandwich and Walt was looking for trouble, as he did even when he was sober. He started to harass Bob, who told him to get lost. Walt grabbed Bob by the arm, and Bob pushed Walt out the door onto the sidewalk. Fortunately, Walt wasn't hurt when he fell, but he took off running because he thought Bob would continue the fight. Instead, he went back to is seat and continued eating.
Jim and Pete's (North and William avenues) was another place visited by my friends and me. The pizza was great, and 3.2 beer was available. Drinking that near-beer made us feel like real mature guys. In reality, I thought it tasted like soap suds.
Three of the places OPRF High School students met after school were Burt's at East Avenue and Lake Street, the Acadia at Oak Park Avenue and Lake, and the cafeteria on the second floor of Gilmore's Department Store (the building Magic Tree Bookstore and Winberie's are in). The high school had a rule that students couldn't smoke within three blocks of the school, so these restaurants — except for Burt's — were safe havens for smokers. My pal Joe liked to go to the Acadia and Gilmore's so he could indulge his habit, but all I got from going to these places was lungs full of second-hand smoke. That's why I rarely went into these places.
Two places where I would go with my family were the Bohemian Crown, just west of Harlem, for stew and dumplings and the Village Inn in the 100 block of North Oak Park Avenue (now Bramble) for Mandarin duck.
When my pals and I were in our late teens, the only place we would go after playing softball or bowling was Pat's Pizza on Madison Street, just east of Ridgeland (Pizza Palazzo for many years until it recently closed). There were usually eight of us, and we ordered three large cheese and sausage pizzas and eight Pepsis.
During the two years we went to Pat's, our favorite pastime was teasing the waitresses and telling Pat that we were short a few dollars on the bill. Pat and the servers were always good natured, though, and took the joshing in stride.
Of these restaurants, only Jim and Pete's, now in Elmwood Park, is still in operation. I miss these places because the thought of them brings back fond memories of the camaraderie of my youth.