Ed Debevic’s restaurant, famous for its 1950s decor and theatrically surly waitstaff, has reopened in the Streeterville area of Chicago after its previous River North location was closed and demolished about six years ago.
The old Ed Debevic’s was north of Route 66 but provided such a unique experience that many Route 66 travelers included it on their itineraries before beginning their westbound journey. It even was listed in the now-defunct Route 66 Dining and Lodging Guide published by the National Historic Route 66 Federation.
Chicago Eater reports:
The menu revives many of the classics from the old days, including chili, Ed’s Mom’s Meatloaf Sandwich, and the World’s Smallest Sundae, but it makes a few concessions to the 21st century, namely an Impossible burger. The servers still dress in vintage splendor with buzz cuts, Buddy Holly glasses, and coonskin caps, but times being what they are, they’re less touchy-feely than in days of yore, and instead of dancing on the tables, they’re encouraged to use special ledges and a runway that extends the length of the main dining room.
Originally founded in 1984 at 640 N. Wells Street, Ed’s was the brainchild of Rich Melman, co-founder of mammoth restaurant group Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. Designed to evoke the roadside diners around Route 66, the chain expanded to Wisconsin, Los Angeles, New York City, Las Vegas, and even Japan, before the chain was eventually sold.
Ed’s was also known for hiring aspiring actors who were unafraid to bully and banter with diners. Former employees include a number of now-famous faces, including Friends star David Schwimmer and actor Lamorne Morris of FOX series New Girl. Celebrities dined there too — Usher, Ludacris, Donny Osmond, Rosie O’Donnell, and Goldie Hawn were all spotted in the glittery vinyl booths, and Barack and Michelle Obama once rented out the restaurant to host a birthday party for one of their daughters.
The new Ed’s is owned by Bravo Restaurants and is located at 159 E. Ohio St. (map here), which is about a mile north of Route 66. It opens at 11 a.m. most days and closes by early evening. It is closed Tuesdays.
(Interior image of Ed Debevic’s in Chicago via Facebook)