The lines wrapped around the restaurant early this morning when Chicago’s first Steak ‘N Shake opened its doors for the first time. The fast-food chain that started in 1934 in Normal finally has a Chicago location near UIC at 1322 S. Halsted Street. Doors opened at 7 a.m. Thursday.
“It feels outstanding,” said store owner Melvin Buckley.
That wait was about 15 minutes as of the noon lunchtime hour, as customers ordered the chain’s signature steakburgers. During the opening hoopla, the daycare center up the street made an order of 20 burgers and 20 shakes. Buckley was proud of his staff for efficiently taking care of the order despite the distractions of today’s festivities.
Opening day guests included UIC men’s basketball coach Steve McClain. For a sneak preview on Wednesday, former Bears linebacker Chris Zorich, now athletic director at Chicago State University, stopped by. But the craziest guest on Thursday was a customer dressed up in red as basketball mascot Benny The Bull, Buckley said. No, it was just a copy, not the real Benny who patrols the United Center during Bulls games.
This Steak ‘N Shake is a 35 seater with a patio. It serves pancakes for breakfast and burgers for lunch and dinner. Buckley is a fast food veteran and is a former McDonald’s store owner.
“It’s been crazy,” he said.
The company has locations in nearby suburbs like Evanston and Tinley Park. For those who have a hankering for nostalgia or Chicagoans who’ve never tried it — Steak ‘N Shake is now open. It’ll also serve beer and wine.
Steak ‘N Shake, 1322 S. Halsted Street., open at 7 a.m. daily.