- Al Fresco
Yes, there really was an Ann Sather.
In the 1940s, a vivacious career woman named Ann Sather decided that what she really wanted to do was own and run a restaurant. Her restaurant. A place where people could come for generous homemade meals, warm hospitality and know the moment they came in the door they went from being a customer to becoming a friend.
So, in 1945, when the Swedish owners of a restaurant located on Belmont decided to retire, Ann quit her job of 22 years, pooled her life savings and bought herself a diner known today as Ann Sather Restaurant.
For 35 years Ann ran the diner herself. Her devotion to wholesome, made-from-scratch food, low prices, friendly service and hard work became legendary in the Lakeview neighborhood and beyond.
In 1981, after searching for a successor who would meet her stringent demands for quality and remain devoted to her patrons, Ann sold the restaurant to Tom Tunney, a 24-year-old graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. Tom apprenticed with Ann for a year learning the business from top to bottom. Armed with culinary training, Tom, the son of Irish immigrants who grew up on Chicago’s Southside, was learning all of the best Scandinavian cooking secrets in town.
Although Ann Sather sadly passed away in 1996, her spirit still prevails in the “good food, good friends and good conversation” philosophy that has made her restaurants famous. She still looks over us all from her portrait hanging in the dining room.