There really was an Ann Sather. And over sixty years ago, she decided what Chicago needed was another restaurant. Her restaurant. A place where people could come for generous homemade meals, warm hospitality and a genuine concern for their welfare.
So 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 better known today as Ann Sather Restaurant.
For 30 years Ann ran the diner herself. Her devotion to wholesome, made-from-scratch food, low prices 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. Tom, a Southside Irish lad with French culinary training was learning all of the best Scandinavian cooking secrets in town.
Although Ann Sather passed away in 1996, her spirit prevails. In the just good food, just good friends, and just good fun philosophy that have made her diners famous.
Over the last 22 years Tom has expanded the business to include the most famous breakfast in town, several neighborhood cafes and Ann Sather Catering is renowned for its wedding receptions, banquets and deliveries!
The first addition to the Ann Sather family arrived on March 9, 1987. Located at 5207 N. Clark Street, Ann Sather Andersonville features exquisite original artworks by Scandinavian artist Sigmund Arseth. Tunney commissioned Arseth to paint 12 canvasses telling the story of Nils, a young boy who in Swedish folklore flew high above Sweden on the back of a goose. Arseth also painted the walls with decorative trim and detailing, reminiscent of Swedish folk art.
The other additions to the Ann Sather family have been on a smaller scale and known as the Ann Sather Cafes. The cafes seat approximately 25 to 50 people depending upon the location. The food served is breakfast and lunch with a lot of to-go orders. Things change over the years but not the good food and good friends of the Ann Sather Restaurants.
Ann Sather Restaurants has also been instrumental in serving the community with its generous support of local organizations and causes. As Tom says: "My business is a two way street. We have to take care of each other."
Now in 2008, as we approach our 63rd anniversary, Ann Sather and her restaurant are legends. Tom Tunney is currently the 44th Ward Alderman. Even with his busy schedule, donít be surprised to see him greet you at the door or find him cooking all breakfast orders on a Sunday morning. He is still the heart of our family and Ann herself looks over us all, smiling from her portrait at the front entrance of our Belmont location