Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Real Story about the Famous "Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant and Lounge" in Skokie, Illinois.

Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant and Lounge were located, hidden among the trees, at 7545 Skokie Boulevard (Skokie Boulevard is Cicero Avenue in Chicago) at the intersection of Howard Street, Lincoln Avenue, and Skokie Boulevard in Skokie, Illinois.
Chris Elliott purchased the property in 1938 for $38,000. The logs were shipped from Wisconsin, and the restaurant was completed and opened in 1939 at the end of the great depression.

The rumor of Elliott's Pine Log being a speakeasy is addressed at the end of this article.

Chris Elliott
The pine log building was nestled on three wooded acres that are beautiful in any season. No matter which of the four dining rooms you were seated in, you had picturesque and relaxing view of the outdoors through huge picture windows.

It was hard to believe you were in Skokie as it felt more like you were in a Wisconsin country inn or a Swiss Alps Chalet. 
Natural wood paneling, different in each dining room, heavy beams on the ceilings, and wood-burning fireplaces added to the rustic look of Elliott's. Inside the large waiting room with its natural wood-burning fireplace were comfortable sofas and overstuffed chairs, where you would wait for your table to be readied. 

Adjacent was the "Keyhole Bar," with a sunken cocktail lounge and raised wood-burning hearth. On Friday and Saturday nights, a piano player would play your requests.
Chris built apartments above the restaurant for his parents to live in. Sometimes the kitchen help would use the flats to rest and then go back on shift.
Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant had the best-roasted duck I ordered every time I ate there. The photo is a visual aid.
Elliott's specialties included; Roasted Duck, Broiled Aged Steak, and Fresh Dressed Chicken, among other great dishes. They hosted many Banquets, Showers, Wedding Parties, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, and company parties and meetings.
Elliott's survived the November 9, 1955 fire that gutted the inside and injured two firefighters, Fred Albrecht and Warren Redik, who suffered superficial burns about the hands and face when they fell through the first floor. Skokie Fire Chief estimated the damage at $100,000 and said the fire, of undetermined cause, started in the basement. 

As it turns out, the total loss was $250,000. Chris Elliott told the Skokie News, "I don't know who released the earlier estimates of damages, 'around $100,000,' but I know that whoever it was never had the pleasure of eating in my restaurant." Fireman Jerome Burke and Robert Kutz received awards for saving two firemen at the Elliot's Pine Log Restaurant fire in 1956.
Mr. Anthony' Tony' Gargano, the restaurant's manager, was a patient of my father, an Optometrist (O.D.). Tony always found the time to sit with us for a minute. 

As the neighborhood changed in the 1980s, business dropped off, and the Pine Log was closed. A public auction was held of all the restaurant's equipment, fixtures, antiques, collectibles, seating, etc., in Chicago on June 25, 1988.
Classified Ad, Chicago Tribune, June 19, 1988
To this day, I compare my fond memories of Elliott's roasted duck to every other roasted duck dish I have ordered since. Still, to this day — None Better!

Construction of two mid-rise condominium buildings on Pine Log's property began in August 1988. The Park Lincoln, as it was named, has 70 units.

Both Alex Elliott and Greg Elliott were Chefs at Elliott's Pine Log.

After the Pine Log closed in 1988, Alex Elliott, Chris Elliott's son, did some restaurant consulting, turned down a lot of offers to partner in restaurants, and continued to raise Black Angus cattle at the family home/farm in tiny Ringwood, Illinois, near Wonder Lake, until moving closer to Chicago.
Elliott's Seafood Grille & Chop House, 6690 North Northwest Highway, Chicago

But the restaurant business is like a narcotic. Alex decided to get back into that precarious racket, opening "Elliott's Seafood Grille & Chop House," 6690 North Northwest Highway, in the heart of Chicago's Edison Park neighborhood, in 2001. "I did not do this to become a millionaire," Alex says. "I wanted the place no more than 15 minutes from where I live and only wanted to make dinners. I wanted an upscale neighborhood place where I could enjoy the customers." That is what he created, a charming spot, sophisticated and laid back. The bar business is steady and lively, and the dinner crowd is a nice mix of ages and occasions. 

A message from Chris Elliott-Bagley: "Hi Neil. Yes, Greg Elliott is my first cousin."
In 1991, Greg Elliott reopened Lake Side Inn as Elliott's Grand Hotel in Wauconda. He says the building was "slipping into the lake when he bought the hotel." Highland Park architect Mark Knauer was hired to recreate the interior, taking everything out except the bar and making the building structurally sound. He hasn't had that restaurant for years. 
In 1996 he and his wife opened a Consignment Shop in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood and the second shop in Lincoln Park.

As stated on numerous websites, the rumor of Elliott's Pine Log being a speakeasy is false. Prohibition began in 1920 and ended on December 5, 1933, but Elliott's Pine Log opened in 1939, six years after the end of the prohibition.

The "Morton House" Restaurant (est.1869) at 8509 Railroad Avenue in Morton Grove, Illinois, was reported to be a speakeasy during prohibition. Click the link to find out. This building was destroyed by fire in 1954." The Morton House was rebuilt.
The Original Morton House was destroyed by fire on January 2, 1954.
The Rebuilt Morton House.

Another speakeasy rumor circulated was about the Charcoal Oven Restaurant at 4400 Golf Road in Skokie. It couldn't have been a speakeasy because it opened in 1948, 15 years after prohibition ended.

Copyright © 2017  Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved.

I loved the Pine Log so much that I recreated my favorite logo of Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant and Lounge. This is my personal 15oz mug. It's high-quality and heavy, and the printing doesn't wash off or fade, even after 5 years of dishwasher sterilization with high-heat drying. Many mug styles, colors, and other items are available.

Nothing is further from the truth regarding the rumors of the Elliot brothers being anti-Semitic. About 80% of Pine Log's business IN JEWISH SKOKIE was, you guessed it, Jewish. I'm Jewish. My folks were Jewish and knew the Elliotts for a very long time. My family ate at the Pine Log once or twice a month and celebrated special occasions for over 20 years. They couldn't do enough to make our meal special, and I personally saw the wait staff treat others the same 5-STAR way. The Elliotts are a class act.

Jack Silverman wrote this comment in a Skokie, Illinois, Facebook group when I posted my article in that group:
"If his aunt was asked to leave, it may be because of the way she was dressed. Elliott's had a dress code back then. She could have had too much to drink and was asked to leave because she was intoxicated. Perhaps she was embarrassed that she got asked to leave and played 'the Jew card.' But I can assure you that her getting booted, if true, had nothing to do with being Jewish!!!"  
Chris Elliott-Bagley, November 16, 2020. 


  1. I have very fond memories of eating at Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant with my parents. Thank you for having this information online.

  2. yes, thank you for posting. I had a heck of a time remembering the name. My wedding rehearsal dinner was here way back in 1976.

  3. I have been there several times and always enjoyed my meal. My wife's girlfriend was also a bartender there.

  4. Chris Elliot was a generous man who donated his delicious food to charities. He donated Christmas dinner to Angel Guardian Orphanage for many years.

  5. The best Roast Duck ever.

  6. I remember going to Elliot's Pine Log in the mid 80s with my parents and it was always a treat when we did. I truly enjoyed their Burgers, I mean I was in Grammar School at the time, but my Mom ordered Orange Roughy one time and I was hooked! I surely do miss that place but glad I got to enjoy it before it closed.

  7. I too remember going to Elliot's Pine Log Inn many times over my years in the neighborhood. After my mother passed away, I had several holiday meals with my brother there and it always gave us a wonderful homey feel for our holiday dinner. I remember it fondly but now I wish I had tried the duck!!

  8. 8th grade graduation celebration from Rogers School in 1970 was celebrated at Elliot's Pine Log as well as several other family celebrations.

  9. Oh how well we remember Elliots...we had reunions there...we lived so close we could walk over...it was the Best and most beautiful restaurant we ever knew...it was our favorite. We bought 5 of the big wagon wheel light fixtures and many of the small brass table lamps that were on ever table...plus some beautiful sconce lamps. So many fond memories. As I write this I can see and enjoy all the items we bought from the auction...wagons wheels in great room and dining room..sconce lamps in dining room,ah yes I could go on, we live in northern Wisconsin so all the treasures we bought fit right in! Thank You Elliots
    Bill N Joanie

  10. I used to live 2 blocks from Elliot's. When they closed and sold the property,there were stories that after the Father, Chris passed away, his children were not interested in continuing the business. They had the best Prime Rib and the best atmosphere which made you thing that you were in a forest.

    1. I lived two blocks away as well, at Howard and LeClaire. :)

  11. So many fond memories and yummy meals of my growing up years and Elliott's. So sorry it is gone now, and I really cannot think of another restaurant that could take its place; it truly was 'one of a kind' and so glad it was a part of my life.

  12. Great article! It brought back a lot of memories. I remember going there for my 8th grade graduation with my family in the late 60's.

  13. We had our wedding reception here at Elliot's in June 1986. There were many reasons to have it here, including our favorite meal which was prime rib. Almost 35 years later our healthy marriage continues. We have yet to find prime rib as good as Elliot's. We will always remember our wedding day at Elliot's.

  14. My family and I ate at the Pine Log several years on Christmas Eve, it was always such a treat. My Father would want to drive out to the restaurant a few weeks ahead of time to make the reservation in person rather than on the phone. Great times with family.

  15. I too have very fond memories of dining with my family at Elliott’s Pine Log. I enjoyed the elegant, rustic atmosphere. You felt really special going there for dinner. I think the last time we went there was in the early 70’s, I don’t know why we never went after that.

  16. My grandparents lived in Skokie in the Sixties and Seventies which allowed us to enjoy many family dinners at Elliott's Pine Log. Always wonderful service and delicious food. The owners were always warm and friendly and I know my family looked forward to seeing them each time we dined there. As a side note, as an adult I moved to Wauconda, IL in 1985. My parents had stopped at my new home for a lunch visit and so decided to try the family restaurant in downtown Wauconda, Elliott's Grand Hotel. It never crossed our minds that it was possible the two restaurants were tied to each other. We were probably seated at our table around 10 minutes before we heard someone say, "Mr. and Mrs. Michaels?". It was Greg Elliot, the son of the owner of the Pine Log. What a wonderful surprise. The family joined us for lunch and we stayed for over three hours reminiscing. Sadly the the Grand Hotel has been closed for many years but for a short time we able to again enjoy all the charm and delicious recipes we once had at the Pine Log.

  17. The BAR! The BAR! The BAR! I can still smell the wood burning in the fireplace … hear the crackling of the logs … the shadows cast on the ceiling … couldn’t find a classier place in all of Chicago .. well maybe Coq d’Or at the Drake … but time is relentless and the good die young … yes — Pine Log — you have a place in my heart and you are missed …

  18. Elliotts lived near Oakton Park. At the time I was going to East Prairie Grammar School with Jimmy Elliott and Mary Ellen. Jimmy was the year ahead of me. We used to eat lunch at East Prairie each day. We would start smelling lovely smells as Elliotts brought lunch for Jimmy and Mary Ellen; burgers, French fries. Maybe they drank Wanzer milks as I did. 4cents for chocolate and 3 for white. Several times Jimmy and I went on a "date". Once to the Skokie Show. I was recently 84. I went 9 years to East Prairie. We were allowed to start kindergarten at age 4.

  19. My dad, also a restaurateur, lived two houses away from Gus and Cecilia Elliott. Gus and my dad were friends and golfing buddies. As a young boy, I was lucky to enjoy the Pine Log often. Mr. & Mrs. Elliott were gracious and elegant people - the epitome of 1960s style.

  20. My dad Wally Smolinski was a chef at Elliot’s in the late 50’s early 60’s. In 1965 we moved to Michigan so my dad could finally pursue his dream of opening his own restaurant in Bangor MI.

  21. I enjoyed this article I’m from the South suburbs Elliot’s reminds me of the history of the Old Barn restaurant in Burbank with several rooms fireplaces and bar my favorite place
    I wish I had known about Elliot’s I would have gone there

  22. Had our wedding reception lunch at Elliot's in the summer of 1987. My husband and I loved the rustic look of Elliot's. The food was great. Married 36 years now and we still talk about how beautiful the day was.

  23. I have fond memories of Elliot’s as well. Held my luncheon wedding reception there. Divorced now but Elliot’s still holds a special place in my heart. It was special!! Thanks for the memories.

  24. After a delicious prime rib meal on March 2nd, 1963 the love of my life proposed to me at Elliot's...I can hear the fireplace crackling and remember the room we were in. We were so young and so in love. We just celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary in January. What wonderful memories of that wonderful restaurant.

  25. Elliotts steak and chop house recently closed and I heard that Alex passed away last week. I never had the pleasure of eating at the Pine Log rest, however Elliotts on Northwest highway did a wonderful job with steak and chops as well as cocktails;?) My wife and I enjoyed dining at Elliotts since Alex opened it and appreciated Alex's hospitality and good food.

  26. The bar and the wonderful piano player! We spent many evenings with him.


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