We remember Otto's

Opinion: Editorials

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Speaking of eating out on Madison Street, the Historical Society is readying a fun trip to the way-back machine on Sept. 8 when it hosts its first restaurant crawl. Long before Francesca's and Shanahan's, before Jimmy's Place and Skrine Chops, Forest Park was home to a stretch of great spots to meet up with friends, toss back a few and have a darned good meal.

It might not have been fine dining – there wasn't much of that conceit back in the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s. But often with an ethnic twist and always with a full bar, Forest Park offered Otto's, Homer's, Richard's Tavern, Caesar's and Olde Town West. These were heady days just before Madison's rapid decline into third-rate antique stores and naprapaths. Happily the turnaround came fast to the street and restaurants have played a leading role in the resurgence.

So on Sept. 8 diners will visit current-day eateries while learning the storied history of past restaurants, their owners and their specialties. Find out more by calling 708-232-3747.

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Dottie Grant Delaquila  

Posted: July 30th, 2020 12:21 PM

My Grandmother lived in Forest Park and always talked about "Sansone's" that they would go and I think dance there??? Can anyone help me with this??

Richard's Fan  

Posted: October 14th, 2014 8:58 AM

I especially remember the Snoopy Sandwich at Richard's. It seems that a couple of blocks were razed, and now there are condos, Starbucks and everything modern. When did this happen. Just urban renewal, or what?

David Meyer from Forest Park IL  

Posted: August 27th, 2013 1:37 PM

A lot of memories in those old restaurants. I remember dining many times and playing accordion several times at Richards Tavern. When Harlin and Helen owned the place, it was standing room only every night. St. Patricks day with Brad and the boys was something I was lucky enough to experience for several years. Though none of those places mentioned in the article were considered fine dining, you could get a great meal in all of them, and live music at various times in most.

Karie from Elmhirst  

Posted: August 25th, 2013 8:21 AM

There was a Caesar's Italian Restaurant/Pizzeria on Randolph just west of Des Plaines Avenue for a number of years in the 1970's. As I remember, it had been in town for awhile and burnt down but was rebuilt and was a cozy spot for intimate dining. The food was great!

Bill from Melrose Park South  

Posted: August 24th, 2013 12:12 PM

I don't know if there was a Ceaser's, but there WAS a Caserio's. Owned by Freddie Caserio and wife Mary Jane, in the space that became Olde Town West and then Doc Ryan's. Freddie was a 1931and 1933 National Golden Gloves boxing champ and an amazing pick pocket who enthralled diners by visiting their tables and lifting their wallets and watches and even screwed on Kiwanis pins. "Is this yours?" he'd ask as he handed the valuables back. He died years ago, and his Mary Jane died in early 2012.

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