Ed Debevic's management says it's only a vacation, even as staff readies for the last day of service on Sunday. That's when the diner relic with an attitude will depart the kitschy space it has called home for the last 31 years. Restaurant management sent out an email earlier this week saying the closure is temporary, and they plan on re-opening in a new space in mid-2016. In case you missed it, a new apartment tower is the reason they're moving, and there's still no word to where the new Ed's will stand.
Debevic's throwback home in River North provided a central place for those visiting Chicago and an oasis for exhausted families. Not known for their burgers or food, it was the staff's antics, like dancing on the tables and "rude" service, that kept customers loyal. Here's a few facts about Ed's as it prepares to depart.
1) Ed's servers are told to embrace the 1950s diner scene and they even audition for their jobs. An array of celebrity actors were once gum-chewing, table-dancing servers, including David Schwimmer ("Friends"), Megan Cavanagh ("A League of Their Own") and Lamorne Morris ("New Girl"). And don't tell anyone, but even Noah Himmel, vice president of Gino's East (the company also owns Ed's) did his time as a waiter.
2) Ed's debuted in 1984, attempting to emulate diners found around legendary Route 66 and other famous American roads like Illinois Highway 50. Rich Melman came up with the concept, which was brought to L.A., New York, Vegas, and even Japan. Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises later sold the theme restaurants.
3) There's a touch of that classic malt shoppe feel, thanks to Ed's popular "World's Smallest Sundae." The fountain creation is made with Mitchell's Ice Cream.
4) Ed's central location is key. One of the reasons management wants to stick closer to the area, the location has also attracted many celebrity diners including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who rented out the space to host a birthday party for one of their daughters. Other famous names who have dined included Barbara Eden ("I Dream of Jeannie"), Usher, Ludacris, Donny Osmond, Rosie O'Donnell and Goldie Hawn.
5) There's a family-friendly feel at Ed's, with neon and aluminum signs, jukeboxes sitting at the tables and glittery vinyl booths. Don't forget the sign reading: "Children left unattended will be towed at the owner's expense."