The story of the Chicago Claim Company goes back to 1973.
Created by Jim Errant at Clark and Belden on Chicago's Northside, the restaurant became an instant hit, known throughout the area for two new restaurant concepts: the build-your-own gourmet burger and the Salad Saloon. The decor followed a southwestern theme, perfect for a restaurant where the burger came to be called the "Motherload."
|An actual Miners Pan Menu from The Chicago Claim Company Restaurant signed by artist James Hribar. Depicts a Miner with his pan and a donkey behind him. It has the award sticker dated 1974. 16" diameter 4" deep.|
|Who's up for a food challenge? Can you eat a 3½ pound burger and the [house-made] chips? In 45 minutes?|
In 1979, the Claim Company put down stakes in the suburbs, opening in the relatively new Northbrook Court shopping center in Northbrook, Illinois. Designer Spiro Zakas created a futuristic version of the Chicago restaurant's southwestern concept. While the Northbrook location was much larger than the Chicago restaurant, the new site was still not large enough for the crowds.
|Since the mid-1970s my "Regular" at the Chicago Claim Company: A hamburger cooked medium, with cheddar cheese on an onion roll with sauteed onions, tomatoes, and Teriyaki. Plus a side of Teriyaki.|
From My Personal Collection.
In 1981, the Claim Company headed West to the Oakbrook Center. The Claim Company was the group's largest restaurant yet, and it quickly became a hot spot.
Jim Errant's success attracted national interest, and in 1994 he sold the Claim Company to an East Coast company with plans to expand outside the Chicagoland market. The Claim Company continued to thrive during the 1980s and into the 90s. The buyers' expansion plans never came to fruition, and the Claim Company closed its doors in 1998.
Loyal customers mourned its loss as did the former owner. In the autumn of 2009, they opened a new version, named "The Claim Company," dropping Chicago from the name, in Northbrook Court. In designing the new restaurant's look they drew inspiration from the restaurant's previous three locations. In a way, stepping through the doors should feel like a homecoming. The Claim Company is open in Vernon Hills, Illinois, too.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.