Have you got a story about Vosnos Restaurant? Eaten there? Tried the African jumbo lobster tails?
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Filed under Illinois, Morton Grove
What a happy surprise to see the Vosnos match book from a Google image search! Vosnos Restaurant brings up many good memories of childhood.
From the mid fifties to the early sixties, my parents would take my sister, brother and I to Vosnos for Sunday dinner, after worship at Trinity Lutheran, Skokie. As regulars we were warmly welcomed and became familiar with the staff. While owned by a Greek American, the restuarant was classic mid century Americana, with a hint of the Mediterranean.
The spacious dining room had classic white linen table cloths and napkins. There was a bright airiness about the room, plush carpet, and soft music. There was a crytal ‘relish tray’ of carrot sticks, celery sticks, radishes, green onions and (non Kalamata) olives, brought to each table. Table crumbs would vanish by the waitress (not wait staff!) using a hand held sweeping devise.
Our family always raved over their well regarded cream of chicken soup, it being the standard by which we measured all others. My sister would get the chicken. I loved the shrimp. My parents usually ordered the lobster tail or the prime rib. It was at Vosnos where I first had herring (as an appetizer) to the chagrin of my parents who hated the stuff.
The one very Greek part of the menu, and the part which my British/Scandinavian family enjoyed, was the home made baklava, made I think by Mrs Vosnos. Unlike what we had had before, we children placed this up in the same special category as Vosnos cream of chicken soup.
An interesting anecdote: my mother had a sensitivity to tobacco smoke, not an easy thing to avoid in the 1950s. My father arranged to have a certain 3 or 4 tables in a corner designated non smoking. Since we were regular customers Mr Vosnos agreed to this. But over the course of a few years, the non smoking area become more and more requested by others and the section grew until, my father says, only a small portion was smoking. Even back then many people enjoyed the clean air!
In 1962, my family moved from Glenview to Lake Forest and began to worship there. Hence, we did not frequent Vosnos regularly after that. But the restaurant has always had a warm place in our family’s history. We were sad to see the widening of Waukegan Road which truncated its parking, just as we were sad to learn of its closing years later.
My mother worked at this place in the ’70s and the Vosnos family treated her like a piece of garbage. They shook all the waitresses down for a cut of their tips, saying the women didn’t deserve so much money just for serving their wonderful food that they could charge high prices for…right into the owners’ pockets, they made no bones about that. Mom once tried to buy me something nice for dinner with her employee’s discount and I was served food you wouldn’t give to an animal…she cried when she saw how bad it was. Some huge church group would come in every Sunday and horribly abuse their waitress, then leave a $1 tip for the whole table…the Vosnos family would force some poor woman to spend all of her time with this group while they were in knowing she was going to make $1 for all that work.
I’d guess the food must have been good since the place stayed in business for so long, but the people that ran the place were just horrible human beings. I was glad to see it go out of business.
The restaurant was opened by brothers Harry and Tom Vosnos in the 1940s. My mother worked there part-time starting in 1954 to make some extra cash for the family mortgage! She eventually became the “hostess” when Harry’s wife Mary wasn’t there. Harry and Mary lived in the two story Georgian immediately west of the restaurant. Their son Chuck was a high school friend of my late brother who was a busboy there.
Harry died in 1957 (?) and it was a huge funeral. My mother by then had opened her own beauty salon and Mary was a regular customer; while she was being coiffured I would wash her car for two bucks. On Fridays when my mom worked at the restaurant Mary always sent her home with a big jar of their own Manhattan Clam Chowder, a container of their never-to-be-matched Roquefort salad dressing (it was so good I was tempted to drink it!) and baklava! Mary passed away in 1995 (?). There was always a stream of their family immigrants coming and going…made more confusing because many had the same first name as well as the same last name. Tom, who always had a story about his hunting trips, lived to be past 100 years old and died in 2000.
The restaurant had a Hammond organ and I fondly remember Edna Sellers playing delightful songs. I frequented the place as an adult and never ever had a bad meal. Their prime beef was the best I ever had…even unto this day! The charcoal broiled hamburgers were unbeatable. The silverware was silver, the monogramed plates were “fancy,” the table linens and napkins were clean and the fireplace welcoming. A few of the waitresses who were there in the 1950s were still there in the early 1970s…I fondly remember Ann who lived in nearby Niles.
To this day, I have nothing but positive memories whenever I drive past the now-empty building. After Vosnos was sold to “October 5” none of us who dined there had anything close to what there was at Vosnos, and after a few times, ceased going at all. October 5 closed.
The 1950s had many fine dining restaurants on Waukegan in Morton Grove and Glenview: Weller’s, Oscar’s, The Glenview House, The Arc, etc. Of the more family oriented places, like the now-gone Purple Steer, only Seven Brothers (once Mandas) remains, and 7B is still a quality place.
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