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Death of Iconic Steakhouse Founder 'an End of an Era'

By Heather Cherone | September 11, 2014 5:25am
  Phil Freedman, 90, who founded Myron and Phil Steakhouse with his brother Myron, died Tuesday.
Death of Iconic Steakhouse Founder 'An End of an Era'
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EDGEBROOK — Phil Freedman, who helped create the iconic Myron and Phil steak and seafood restaurant beloved by generations of Northwest Siders, has died, bringing an "end of an era," family members said Wednesday.

Freedman, 90, suffered from dementia and was living in Arizona when he died Tuesday, said Mark Freedman, his nephew.

"It comes to a point when it is time to say when," said Mark Freedman, who took over the famed eatery at 3900 W. Devon Ave. when his father, Myron, and uncle retired. "The end of an era has officially come ... with the passing of my uncle."

Heather Cherone says the former steakhouse will live on in a new location soon:

Reservations at Myron and Phil's — founded in 1971 — were once among the most sought after in town, and nearly every diner was greeted by Phil Freedman and his signature line: "Nice to see your smiling face."

"He taught us the meaning of kindness and generosity," Mark Freedman said of his uncle. "He treated everyone with respect and a kind heart. When you dined with him, you were treated like royalty."

Without any experience in running a fine dining restaurant, Myron and Phil Freedman turned their namesake restaurant into a destination for Chicago's rich and famous — many of whom were happy to contribute a signed photo to the restaurant's walls.

"They both went to the school of hard knocks for their culinary skills," Mark Freedman said. "He and my father were pioneers."

Known for its chopped liver pate, whitefish, skirt steak and salad dressing, Myron and Phil's was the most glamorous place on the Far Northwest Side for decades.

Myron Freedman died in May 2013, on the same day an electrical fire in a storeroom forced the restaurant to close. Myron Freedman, who was 95, also suffered from dementia.

While Mark Freedman vowed to reopen his father and uncle's restaurant, a protracted battle with the insurance company after extensive smoke and water damage, as well as a desire for a fresh start, prompted him to close the Lincolnwood restaurant for good.

Myron and Phil's spirit will live on in at the Wildwood Tavern, which will pay homage to the Chicago neighborhood, Mark Freedman said.

Mark Freedman said he plans to finalize the purchase of the new restaurant at 7201 N. Caldwell Ave. in Niles this week, with an opening planned for some time in the spring.

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, Mark Freedman said

Wildwood Tavern's menu will focus on burgers, salads and sandwiches, as well as smoked barbecue, Freedman said.

Services for Phil Freedman will be private, Mark Freedman said.

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