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Chicago’s First Steak ‘N Shake Should Open Next Month

This South Side location near UIC will serve beer

Steak ‘N Shake’s coming to Chicago in late July.
Steak ‘N Shake/Facebook
Ashok Selvam is the editor of Eater Chicago and a native Chicagoan armed with more than two decades of award-winning journalism. Now covering the world of restaurants and food, his nut graphs are super nutty.

Chicago’s first Steak ‘N Shake has hit a few delays, but customers should be able to chomp on a steakburger sometime in late July near University of Illinois at Chicago’s campus at 1322 S. Halsted Street. When the restaurant opens, unlike most locations, this restaurant will sell alcohol. Store owner Melvin Buckley confirmed that it’ll have a variety of bottled beer.

“We’re right across from a Bar Louie and the Bracket Room,” Buckley said. “We’re fast-casual dining and kind of similar to them. You should be able to grab a steakburger and a beer or a glass of wine.” He’s still sorting out which beer brands to carry.

Buckley is a seasoned fast-food restaurant operator. He owned three McDonald’s on the South Side including a location at 47th Street and Cottage Grove. He sold his locations in April 2017 and began investing in Indianapolis-based Steak ‘N Shake. While the chain has locations in the suburbs, it hasn’t yet opened within Chicago’s borders. Buckley feels that Steak ‘N Shake would do well in Chicago and isn’t sure why the chain hasn’t opened in the city. Buckley has plans to open another Steak ‘N Shake next year in suburban Park Forest along Lincoln Highway.

This location is 1,500 square feet, which is smaller than a typical Steak ‘N Shake. It’ll have room for 35 seats inside and 16 on a sidewalk patio. While the restaurant will serve the full line of burgers and some hot dogs, due to size limitations it won’t have the full array of menu items. It’ll also be open for breakfast to serve pancakes and other morning foods.

Buckley also happens to be the restaurant’s builder; he’s a contractor. He’s excited to bring the chain, which was founded in downstate Normal in 1934, to Chicago. That predates McDonald’s by 21 years. Buckley believes Chicago is ripe for expansion.

“We’ve had Wendy’s and McDonald’s, now it’s time for Steak ‘N Shake,” he said. Stay tuned for more opening details.