Going to Hackney’s on Lake today is the same as it was back in the 80’s. My grandmother loved the place, my parents love the place, and I love the place. The same is true of the original Hackney’s location on Harms. I haven’t visited their other restaurants. But my guess is you would find a similar experience.
The approach is unpretentious. Interior decoration is mid-century. The bar is low-key. There is a patio for warm weather. The patrons are there to eat a good meal in pleasant surroundings and go home. There is nothing remotely trendy about it, and in today’s fast-paced world I find that to be a nice thing.
Many great Chicago dining experiences have fallen by the wayside over the years. The Como Inn, Fanny’s of Evanston, Myron & Phil, the Studio and so many others have passed into history.
Then there are those that are not the same. The Berghoff closed amidst national headlines back in 2006 to become a dedicated catering business. It has since reopened. But when I went for lunch in 2011 it wasn’t the same. The old school waiters have been replaced with staff who look like they were hired away from Chili’s. I also thought the menu wasn’t quite as good.
Hackney’s continues to remain relevant in its original form. On every visit I get four items: a Green River, a Hackney Burger, a side salad and an order of French-Fried Onion Rings. They have other great things on the menu. But I have been enjoying that particular combination my entire life.
Hackney’s has been a family-run business for over seventy-six years. From that I gather two things: 1) they understand the fundamentals of business and 2) they have a strong family. Passing a business from one generation to the next is not an easy thing to do.
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