Chicago has great history, and the people of Chicago are very proud of it. There are statues and monuments and plaques all over town commemorating everything from newspaper columnists to the location of geological features that are no longer there.
One plaque we ran across commemorates a restaurant.
It’s at the corner of North Southport Avenue and West Oakdale Avenue and was put there in honor of Zum Deutschen Eck. For decades this portion of Lake View was a very heavily German community, centered around Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church (1429 West Wellington Avenue), and the theater and community center it built across the street.
The plaque reads:
FORMER SITE OF “ZUM DEUTSCHEN ECK” RESTAURANT
“A true Bavarian Chalet in Chicago,” owned and operated by the Albert Wirth family and recognized as an outstanding dining and banquet facility, Zum Deutschen Eck was founded on June 16, 1956. On January 9, 2000 ZDE retired after 44 years providing excellent food and service to three generations of neighbors and customers from around the world. Many of these customers were members of St. Alphonsus Church, founded in 1882 to serve the burgeoning German immigrant population moving into the Lakeview neighborhood.”
A Chicago Reader article from February 3, 2000 cited another local paper to tells us what happened:
The owner, Albert Wirth Jr., had sprung the news on guests and staff during a speech at the end of a birthday party given for him. According to the story, he thanked the staff for their years of service, then announced that this was the last meal Zum Deutschen Eck would be serving. The property had been sold for condo development.
The bad news is that today, it’s a surface parking lot. Not even condos. The good news is that its demise came after the advent of the modern internet, so there are plenty of photos and memories about it online available through a quick search. We found this photograph of it on Flickr: