EDGEBROOK — The iconic Myron and Phil steak and seafood restaurant may be shuttered, but its spirit will live on in a new restaurant that will pay homage to the Wildwood neighborhood, its owner said.
Mark Freedman had vowed to reopen the Far Northwest Side eatery founded by his father and uncle 44 years ago after an electrical fire in May 2013 forced it to close. But a protracted battle with the restaurant's insurance provider and a desire to open a more casual tavern prompted Freedman to drop those plans.
"It was a very difficult experience," Freedman said. "We've been struggling with the loss of our business that my family has run for a very long time. It's been sad. But Wildwood Tavern has given us a new start."
While the tavern, 7201 N. Caldwell Ave., is just across the city border in Niles, it will reflect Wildwood's long history of being a tree-lined oasis in the city, Freedman said.
The tavern's decor will reflect Wildwood's lush vegetation and the colors found in the Bunker Hill Forest Preserve, which is nestled in the neighborhood, Freedman said.
"You don't feel like you are in the city," Freedman said. "It is a great feeling."
On the same day that the fire erupted at the Lincolnwood restaurant, Myron Freedman — who founded the steakhouse with his brother, Phil, in 1971 — died at age 95 of complications from dementia, adding to the family's pain, Mark Freedman said.
Some of the dishes that made Myron and Phil's a neighborhood institution will live on at Wildwood Tavern including the chopped liver, which will be part of an appetizer plate.
"The restaurant will have the essence of Myron and Phil's," Freedman said. "People have told us they definitely miss the restaurant. But it won't be Myron and Phil's."
Wildwood Tavern's menu will focus on burgers, salads and sandwiches as well as smoked barbecue made from scratch, Freedman said.
"I love the idea of being so close to our neighborhood," said Freedman, who has lived in Wildwood for decades.
Wildwood Tavern will have a "laid-back feel" that Freedman said he hoped would attract young families looking for somewhere to eat with their children after a Little League game — and a place to come for drinks — including craft beer — after the kids are in bed.
"I want people to come and just hang out," Freedman said.
Freedman said he hoped to have the restaurant open by early fall in the space once occupied by Christopher's Off the Bone BBQ Char House. It has been vacant for about a year.
"We're going to make the space our own," Freedman said.
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