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 Blvd. is Cicero Ave. 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. The restaurant was completed and opened in 1939 at the end of the great depression.
NOTE: The rumor of Elliott's Pine Log being a speakeasy, as stated on numerous websites online is false. Prohibition began in 1920 and ended on December 5, 1933. Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant and Lounge opened in 1939, six years after the end of prohibition. As rumor has it the speakeasy was really the "Morton House Restaurant" 8509 Railroad Avenue, Morton Grove, Illinois, destroyed by fire on January 2, 1954."
Chris Elliott
The pine log building was nestled in three wooded acres that are beautiful in any season. No matter where you were seated in any of the four intimate dining rooms, you'd have a relaxing view of the picturesque 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 to it was the "Keyhole Bar" with a sunken cocktail lounge with a raised wood-burning hearth. On Friday and Saturday nights, there was a piano player who would play your requests.
Chris built apartments above the restaurant for his parents to live in. Sometimes the kitchen help would use the apartments to rest and then go back on shift.
Elliott's Pine Log Restaurant had the best-roasted duck, which I personally ordered every time I ate there.
Elliott's specialties included; Roasted Duck, Broiled Aged Steaks, Fresh Dressed Chicken, among other great dishes. They hosted many Banquets, Showers, Wedding Parties, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, and many 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, 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 receive 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. There was a public auction 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 — None Better!

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

The rumor of Elliott's Pine Log being a speakeasy, as stated on numerous websites online, is false. Prohibition began in 1920 and ended on December 5, 1933. Elliott's Pine Log opened in 1939, six years after the end of 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. (Article)
The Original Morton House was destroyed by fire on January 2, 1954.
The rebuilt Morton House.

Another speakeasy rumor circulated 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. 

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

So, Jack Silverman writes this comment in a Skokie, Illinois, Facebook group when I posted this article in that group:
COMMENT POSTED TO SILVERMAN: "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!!!" (11/16/2020) 

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


  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. 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.

  6. 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!!

  7. 8th grade graduation celebration from Rogers School in 1970 was celebrated at Elliot's Pine Log as well as several other family celebrations.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.


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