23 Aug 2014
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The Zephyr Restaurant

A venerable but long-gone Des Plaines restaurant.

The Zephyr Restaurant The Zephyr Restaurant The Zephyr Restaurant The Zephyr Restaurant The Zephyr Restaurant

The Sugar Bowl may today be the classic downtown Des Plaines restaurant, but for many years it had a competitor just a few doors down, the Zephyr.

After the demolition of the Thoma House Hotel in 1929, a new building was erected on the site to house a furniture store. The Zephyr Cafe opened in July 1936 on the left side of that building; a different tenant was next door in the same building.

The facade was simple Streamline Moderne; covered in randomly-sized cut stones with two notches at either end. It was managed by the Ladas Brothers - Sam, Andrew, and John. The family also ran the Arlington Cafe in Arlington Heights. Like the Sugar Bowl, it featured good, diverse meals and a soda fountain. The slogan was straightforward  - "Good Food".

In 1938, the Arlington Heights Herald described it:

"The people from all over this part of the county, the tourists and visitors, all have pronounced this Cafe one of the finest in this section. It is attractively furnished and tastily decorated, which makes it a most cheerful place, and here amidst comfortable surroundings, one of the most courteous services is afforded the public. Whether at noon luncheon or dinner, you will find all the satisfaction of good service and high quality of food that will please the most jaded appetite.

Good food is a watchword with this concern and the management is so careful in supplying high quality continually that it is the kind of a place to which you can go and be sure of a good meal.

The manager personally sees that the people of this part of the country are not only given the choicest of food, but the latest dishes of the day and that the best of service is always given regardless of the size of the order. They have provided the very latest of equipment in the kitchens, and everything is in the very best of condition and appetizing when served to the guests.

They specialize in genuine Chinese Chop Suey and real Italian Spaghetti. You are assured of the finest at moderate prices."

You won't find too many Greek restaurants today claiming to serve genuine 'Chinese' Chop Suey and real Italian cuisine.

In 1949, the business was expanded next door, to the Zephyr Lounge and Steak House, which had previously housed "The Curiosity Shop", a resale and antique shop that had opened in 1946. Called colorful, beautiful, comfortable, and relaxing, and featuring gorgeous circular booths, a "magnificent" bar, and an all-mirror background, the Lounge sounds like it was a nice place to settle down with a drink.

By the time it closed, around 1967-1970, the two were together known as the Zephyr Restaurant & Lounge, and had received a 'modern' makeover.

In 1971-1972 it was briefly the Aristo Restaurant. From 1973-1985 it was the popular Sawa's Old Warsaw Polish restaurant, which still operates in Broadview.
In 1987, it became Magnolia, another Polish restaurant. In March 1993, a blues club with a pizza kitchen, Booeymongers, opened, closing in 1996.

Booeymongers updated the (green!) facade with stucco and an arch at the top, but kept the notches. From 1998-1999 it was Zodiac Chinese Restaurant. Later that year, a Leona's Restaurant opened, which remains open today.

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