Chicago style Italian Italian Hot Beef Joint...

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Joined Dec 9, 2017
Hello fellow seasoned professionals!
This is my first post after years of perusement on this GREAT SITE. I’ve always enjoyed your comments, insights, knowledge, and philosophies.
I’m here now to ask you all for some guidance, so first allow me an introduction.
My Name is Uncle Mikey as most call me. I’m a trained and proven professional in the food business with a lifetime span of over forty years in the industry (save for a brief stint in college and working on the field in the Civil Engineering profession for a total of six years).
It’s the usual climb up the ladder story. I started washing dishes on the weekends during high school, and worked my way up to cook Chef, manager, and eventually by 1992, founded my first company as a Corporate caterer. What a great gig too.....I went on to building up a business with close to $1 Mil. In annual revenue, had 2great kids, my wife stayed home, bought a house, cars, etc. Times were great in those 25 years. Then, my dear wife was stricken with cancer.
I sold my business for way less money that I felt worth, as would anyone else feel in my grief stricken situation and stayed home to nurse my wife back to health. Medical science, and my vicinity to one of the best hospitals for this type of thing in the world, cured her. Now she’s in better shape than I am.
Over time, I’ve had 2 knee replacements and surgery to correct and replace two discs in my neck. I feel great now, and I finally got the bug back.
Since I was a kid, I’ve always loved the city of Chicago and most of all, the Italian Beef Sandwiches. It’s also a lifelong dream of mine to open up a “dump” where people will flock to no matter where they come from for this juicy, meaty, flavourful, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. I live in Toronto where this type of food is mostly dominated by the Italian veal sandwich and a good beef one is unheard of. Some attempted to bring Chicago’s sandwiches here but failed. Could be for a countless number of reasons as you know.
I want to open a small divey shop for as less capital as possible, make and market the best damn kickass Chicago beef sandwich the true north has ever had!
I would so much appreciate all your comments, ideas, recipes etc. etc.
 

kuan

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I suggest you go to the Little Three Happiness forum and dig around for the best Italian Beefs in Chicago. Then do the Beef tour, take notes, and go from there.

Not to put a damper on things, but regional tastes vary, you know that. Our Maxwell Street Polish in Minnesota is never charred the way it is in Chicago. "Spicy" Giardiniera is not sold in stores here, etc.
 
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Joined Dec 9, 2017
I suggest you go to the Little Three Happiness forum and dig around for the best Italian Beefs in Chicago. Then do the Beef tour, take notes, and go from there.

Not to put a damper on things, but regional tastes vary, you know that. Our Maxwell Street Polish in Minnesota is never charred the way it is in Chicago. "Spicy" Giardiniera is not sold in stores here, etc.
Thank you
 
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Thank you Kuan, I realize that taste is a regeonal thing and it’s pretty likely that the reason we don’t see this type of food around here in Toronto is that it never caught on. I could very well offer the best Chicago Beef, but as for needing it, it will be challenging.
I wonder if I’m wishfully thinking.
 

kuan

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Anyway, you can I believe. You don't have to roast your own, you can buy pre roasted and even pre sliced. This way you are just reheating. Then you can get broth, and of course the rest. I don't know who does it in Toronto, but my go to Chicago foodservice people were Fox River Foods, now apparently acquired by another company. They supplied all my Chicago Dog stuff.
 
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First of all happy you and your wife are doing well and Happy Holidays. Just a hop, skip and a jump away in Buffalo they sell "Beef on Weck" This may be a better closer to home concept. https://www.usatoday.com/story/trav...eef-weck-sandwich-buffalo-new-york/731420001/ I'm not really sure why every state doesn't have a good Roast beef sandwich. I could drive all over Washington state and not find one. You could offer the best Chicago Italian beef in the world and still not have a successful business. What works in one place may not work in another. You would have a better chance with a burger joint than a Roast Beef joint. You also taking the Italian Beef sand outside the USA. Just think of how many people in Toronto that haven't even had a Italian beef sand.......All that being said, I'll have mine dipped with peppers.......Good luck.......ChefBillyB
 
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Joined Dec 9, 2017
Thanks ChefBillyB, your wishes are much appreciated and all the best to you, your missus et al.
I agree that what works in some places does not always work in others, yet I’d hate to deprive T.O. Of the Chic. Beef with peppers, gardenierra with a slight dip. Too many burger joints here too! I feel that we could use something else but what? I won’t go G.F./Vegan either. In my previous company, we catered to the corporate sector mostly serving up the best sandwiches ever with over 40 different varieties. Those were my younger years as I probably racked up a few hundred thousand of them over time.
I by no means have given up my Chicago style plight, but I’m open to any further suggestions from anyone here who care to reply.
Happy Holidays and Merrrrrrry Christmas to all of you restauvets.
 
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Um ... well ... I eat a lot of beefs in Chicago. I'm not gonna go and tell Kuan he's wrong but ... if you go and do it how he suggests ... in Chicago ... you'll be looking for work in some other place rather quickly. Beefs are a serious business in Chicago.

If you want to see what I'm talking about ... come here to Chicago and check out the places that get the most acclaim. See what they do and taste their beefs.

Not in any order ... these are always claimed "Best in Chicago" by somebody.
Al's Italian Beef, Bari, Freddy's Pizza, Johnnie's Beef, Luke's Italian Beef, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage, Tony's Italian Beef, Max's Italian Beef, Jimmy's Homemade Italian Beef, Scatchell's, Bubba's Place, Pop's, Mr. Beef on Orleans, Jay’s Beef, Roma’s Italian Beef & Sausage, Joe Boston’s Italian Beef. ... (I personally vouch for those italicized)
 
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I agree with "ICEMAN" Notice the caps buddy. Take a look at the "Corned Beef House" IN Toronto. IMHO these kind a sandwiches would go over well every where. Your Idea may work but you may not need a "Brick and Mortar" location to achieve you goal. You could get a spot in a large market and set up a counter and take out service. The Italian Beef is an easy concept to assemble using steam tables. The beef could be cooked off-site, sliced ready to put into the Italian seasoned Au jus. It's much easier to do a one or two concept menu in a small stand type setting. If you are located in a busy market you'll have a good amount of people walking by your stand and seeing you product. It's like going to the County fair and seeing some one walking around with an elephant ear. People that have never see it will ask what it is and try one. I would also look at a food cart or trailer if this concept is available in Toronto. I think when your trying to promote a sandwich that most people aren't familiar with, a walk by visual would help sell it.......The Best!........ChefBillyB.........P.S. People who live in Chicago will crave the next Italian Beef sandwich and even plan their day making sure it's part of their meal plan. The people in Toronto who never had one can't really look at it the some way as people who grew up eating these local favorites.
 
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Joined Dec 9, 2017
Um ... well ... I eat a lot of beefs in Chicago. I'm not gonna go and tell Kuan he's wrong but ... if you go and do it how he suggests ... in Chicago ... you'll be looking for work in some other place rather quickly. Beefs are a serious business in Chicago.

If you want to see what I'm talking about ... come here to Chicago and check out the places that get the most acclaim. See what they do and taste their beefs.

Not in any order ... these are always claimed "Best in Chicago" by somebody.
Al's Italian Beef, Bari, Freddy's Pizza, Johnnie's Beef, Luke's Italian Beef, Pop's Italian Beef & Sausage, Tony's Italian Beef, Max's Italian Beef, Jimmy's Homemade Italian Beef, Scatchell's, Bubba's Place, Pop's, Mr. Beef on Orleans, Jay’s Beef, Roma’s Italian Beef & Sausage, Joe Boston’s Italian Beef. ... (I personally vouch for those italicized)

Thanks Iceman, I didn’t get the impression that Kuan was suggesting I do business in Chicago :- that would be financial suicide to even attempt to compete with the “generational” establishments, but I DO agree on a site visit to Chitown’s best as a forefront to my research.
Great list Iceman, I’ll surely use it on my trip there.
 
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Joined Dec 9, 2017
I agree with "ICEMAN" Notice the caps buddy. Take a look at the "Corned Beef House" IN Toronto. IMHO these kind a sandwiches would go over well every where. Your Idea may work but you may not need a "Brick and Mortar" location to achieve you goal. You could get a spot in a large market and set up a counter and take out service. The Italian Beef is an easy concept to assemble using steam tables. The beef could be cooked off-site, sliced ready to put into the Italian seasoned Au jus. It's much easier to do a one or two concept menu in a small stand type setting. If you are located in a busy market you'll have a good amount of people walking by your stand and seeing you product. It's like going to the County fair and seeing some one walking around with an elephant ear. People that have never see it will ask what it is and try one. I would also look at a food cart or trailer if this concept is available in Toronto. I think when your trying to promote a sandwich that most people aren't familiar with, a walk by visual would help sell it.......The Best!........ChefBillyB.........P.S. People who live in Chicago will crave the next Italian Beef sandwich and even plan their day making sure it's part of their meal plan. The people in Toronto who never had one can't really look at it the some way as people who grew up eating these local favorites.


Toronto used to have a great deal of delis here as the downtown textile and furrier industries were booming. People would flock to Spadina Avenue to places like Shpsey’s, Switzer’s and the Bagel Bar.
But those days are long gone. Now it’s Chinatown and has been for decades. Now there’s only a few on the north end who manage to do decently and only a few downtown with a sub-par product.
I also, as you have suggested, considered a market-type stand, and a food truck for this venture. Both would involve off premesis preparation with proper licensing which to me defeats the purpose of not having a brick and mortar. Relying on others to rent or use their kitchen will only add another element of uncertainty in the entire scheme of things, but maybe I’m missing something.
Taking this project on would have to result in a finely tuned, well researched and a one-time shot to succeed. I look forward to the challenge if I decide to go forward with this.
 
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Joined Dec 9, 2017
What type of area should I be looking into?
High/low income? Industrial? Ethenic? Low rent/undesirable yet auto accessable?, high rent/desirable with lots of walkby?
 
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Joined Jun 23, 2015
What type of area should I be looking into?
High/low income? Industrial? Ethenic? Low rent/undesirable yet auto accessable?, high rent/desirable with lots of walkby?
Mister K,
I think you are getting ahead of yourself. Not being snarky at all, trying to help you with your project. What is your mission statement? What do you plan to do? Serve Italian beef sandwiches using top quality ingredients cooked in house? Serve a good selling sandwich from ingredients pre-cooked and bought from a large vendor? Do you want to do all the work your self or have a chef employees and be supervisor? Who are your customers and what is your price break point? Who is your competition?
Answer some of this type questions and see where you are. Good Luck!
 

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