It was in late June of 1980 that then Mayor Jane Byrne announced the first Taste of Chicago. At the press conference was my dad, Eli Schulman, Rich Melman, in the early days of building Lettuce Entertain You in the premiere national restaurant company that it is today, Don Roth, the owner of Don Roth’s and Arnie Morton, famed restaurateur and later creator of Morton’s, who is credited with developing the concept of Taste of Chicago.

What I find very interesting about the photo is the dress of the participants. Rather than the suits and ties of the day, the group was dressed as servers and chefs, a real statement that Taste of Chicago was about local restaurants and their owners personally committed to making sure that guests had
a great experience.

Fast forward 26 years to June 30th, 2006 and the opening of Taste of Chicago. This photo was taken at 7:30am as the vendors at Taste were getting ready for opening day. In this shot, it is me, Charlie Robinson’s Ribs–our neighbor and great friend at Taste for many years, and Sam Sianis, owner of Billy Goat Tavern with restaurants in the Chicago area and Washington DC. We are still in uniform and ready to give our guests at Taste and where ever they enjoy our respective products the best quality and service possible.

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