Mr. Beef - Restaurant Recovery Update - Open or Closed?

Restaurant Recovery Mr. Beef

In this Restaurant Recovery episode, Todd Graves visits Mr. Beef in Chicago, Illinois.

Mr. Beef is owned by Joe and Christopher Zucchero.

Chicago is known for many things.

From the soaring skyscrapers and professional sports to the wind and the snow there are many reasons to visit.

However, for Todd number one on the list of reasons to visit is the food.

With over 7,000 restaurants in the city, there are a lot of amazing places to eat.

For Todd, when in Chicago, you have to go to Mr. Beef on Orleans.

No one does classic Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches like Joe Zucchero and his son Christopher.

Their success has been built through hard work, a passion for what they do and great food.

If COVID-19 forces a closure of Chicago classics like Mr. Beef, the soul of this city’s food culture will be lost forever.

Todd doesn’t want to see that happen.

An Italian beef sandwich is thinly sliced roast beef on French bread.

There is a garnish of chopped celery, spices and peppers.

Christopher says that the place is a family business.

Joe says that they are there every day and that you’ll see his face here.

Joe and his brother opened the stand in 1979.

In the mid 1970s, Joe was cutting meat for a grocery store.

Joe had the opportunity to take over the stand so he jumped at it.

They worked 14 hours a day to make it work.

He had to put his heart and soul into it so he wouldn’t have to go back to his old job.

Joe says that they have kind of a cult following.

They have three generations of people that have eaten there.

Joe says they are doing half of the business they used to.

They are barely keeping their heads above the water.

They’ve been there for the last 43 years.

Joe thinks they are the last of one of the beef places that are left.

Christopher says he doesn’t know how he could live with himself if they had to close Mr. Beef.

This is all that he has ever known since he was a small child.

Todd tries some of the food.

He says that the Italian beef sandwich is delicious.

You can taste the quality and Joe’s passion for good food in every bite.

Todd tries the Chicago dog and also enjoys that.

Christopher grew up in the restaurant.

They show Todd the dining area.

Their dining area isn’t COVID-19 safe.

Todd says he loves the passion and that he has a lot of respect.

Christopher gives Todd the keys.

Todd brings in Bryan Brown, who oversees all the new construction and renovation for his restaurants.

The best thing to do is to get rid of the communal table to free up the space.

This will allow them to be able to section off areas.

Todd has a lot of projects planned and their timeline is tight.

They will need to replace the subfloor and redo the dining room.

Todd says he can’t wait to show Christopher and Joe their new space.

Later, Todd shows them their new dining area.

Joe says that he loves it and it looks fantastic.

Christopher cannot believe how great the place looks.

Joe says that what Todd did here is shocking.

It immediately overwhelmed him.

Christopher says that the new dining area is very warm.

Joe says that he is stunned so he has to sit down.

Todd got them a $15,000 billboard campaign to promote the place.

Todd was able to secure a years supply of cooking oil to save on costs.

Todd is putting in $15,000 to help with any expenses they may have.

He also gives them a years supply of ketchup and another $15,000 in cash.

Joe is shocked that someone is that generous.

Todd says he has a lot of respect for Joe.

Todd brings in Roquan Smith, the linebacker for the Chicago Bears.

They finally reopen to a line of eager customers.

Todd says that it feels good to help hardworking people.

Todd knows that they will be able to keep serving for generations to come.

What Happened Next at Mr. Beef?

Mr. Beef is open.

Reviews are very positive.

There is a lot of praise for their Italian beef.

Joe sadly passed away on 1st March 2023.

He sadly lost his decades long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Joe said that he was overwhelmed by the response to the changes.

Chris had plans to open another restaurant outside of the city.

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