Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blackie's...Holding Down the Fort for Years in Printers Row

Don Terry, of the Chicago Sun-times, had a recent article about Blackie's, the old bar/restaurant that's located at the corner Polk and Clark. It's been a family run place for 70 years and has seen the neighborhood boom, bust and come back around.

Terry specifically calls out the diverse wait staff and says that's why he likes the place:

For 70 years, the DeMilio-Thomas family has owned and operated Blackie's restaurant and bar at the corner of Clark and Polk. I love the apple sauce pancakes, but it's the diverse and longtime staff, which includes African Americans, Latinos and Italian Americans, that keeps me coming back.

It is a snapshot of what the rest of the city should be like.

Although it's a nice thought, we would argue that many of the city's restaurants also have diverse wait staffs, just not very diverse clientele. For a highly segregated city, the South Loop in tends to be pretty diverse. Maybe that was the point he was going for...

Anyway, back to the article. It provides a nice history of the joint and even drops some names of the famous celebrities that have graced the place over the years:
Blackie's is across the street from the old Dearborn train station. During the 1940s and 1950s, there was no telling who you might run into having a beer at Blackie's. Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., the Harlem Globetrotters, Rocky Marciano, Sam Cooke and Lena Horne were just a few of the celebrities who ate and drank there on their way in or out of town on the Santa Fe Super Chief.

The Three Stooges and the Marx Brothers also spent time in Blackie's. One night, the Stooges and the Marx boys got into a food fight when one side criticized the other's comedic skills.

"It was right over there near the window,'' Jeffrey says, pointing behind. "I can't remember who my grandfather said started it.''

(Hat Tip: SC!)


Anonymous said...

I like the diversity of the wait staff, just wish it wasn't an all dude wait staff whenenver I go there.

Carl said...

This is a great "beer and a shot" tavern with no attitude.

The food is decent enough . . . nothing out of the ordinary but solid.

Unknown said...

Mmmmm Burgers! I've been going there sine I was a kid and my dad worked at Chicago Papaer Co. on Wells & Polk. One of the last places levt from that era.

Louis Reeves said...

They just filed for bankruptcy.

Anonymous said...

Anon (SC) - Boston Blackies filed for chap 11, not affilated with Blackies in South Loop.