Lou Mitchell's Restaurant
Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant is located in
Chicago’s Loop district, at 565 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, Il. The restaurant is open Monday-Saturday 5:30am to 3:00pm, Sunday
7:00am to 3:00pm for breakfast and lunch. For further
information, please call 312-939-3111 or visit Lou Mitchell's
Restaurant & Bakery website.
of the first stops on the Mother Road, Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant
in downtown Chicago offers a scrumptious send off to travelers
headed out on historic Route 66. A visit to this crowded,
urban establishment is not your average main street experience.
It serves to remind us that the hundreds of small towns strung
along the great arc of the Mother Road were connected to the two
metropolitan giants of Los Angeles and Chicago.
1949, Lou Mitchell’s is located at 565 West Jackson Boulevard, a
few blocks west of Lake Michigan and the eastern terminus of
Route 66. To enjoy the full impact of this restaurant’s façade
tucked snugly between two taller buildings, view it at a
distance from across the street. Visitors immediately focus on
the original aluminum and glass storefront. Rising up from the
upper front façade and extending the entire length of the
building is the eye catching, original 1949 neon sign that
proudly states “Lou Mitchell’s Serving the World’s Best Coffee.”
Another original sign, this one extolling the restaurant’s
handmade bakery goods, is still hanging on the front façade.
Aside from timely upgrades of the kitchen and bathrooms, the
interior of Lou Mitchell’s has not been significantly altered
since 1949. The dining room retains its original black and white
terrazzo flooring, and most of the dining and counter areas are
The booths have their original wood tables,
coat racks, and seats, although the seats sport new upholstery.
The multi-sided counters with individual stools are original but
have newer laminated surfaces and upholstery. Much of the wood
and Formica wall paneling dates to 1949. All in all, the
stylistic choices made in 1949 point not backward but to the
future, to the 1950s. The restaurant’s intense presentation of
neon, shining glass, and sleek aluminum truly place this
historic eatery in Route 66’s classic Golden Age.
of local Chicagoans and travelers usually found at Lou
Mitchell’s underscores one of the most important historical
dynamics of the Route 66 experience. In the middle of the 20th
century, the Mother Road brought people together from all
corners of the country as locals and outsiders rubbed shoulders
in countless diners, gas stations, and motor courts. Of course,
at Lou Mitchell’s the visitor will probably be literally rubbing
shoulders as this popular spot is often crowded, sometimes with
lines stretching out the door. To ease the wait, the staff
passes out its famous freshly baked donut holes to all, and
complimentary Milk Duds to all female guests and children,
according to an old tradition. Once inside, diners have the
opportunity to sample some excellent breakfast and lunch fare.
Despite its metropolitan setting, Lou Mitchell’s shares
a characteristic in common with hundreds of small town
commercial establishments that have plied their trade along the
Mother Road: it is family-owned and run. Founder William
Mitchell, whose original restaurant was across the street on the
north side of Jackson Boulevard, named his 1923 startup after
his son Lou, who worked with other family members helping to run
the restaurant. Lou eventually took over operations and ran the
restaurant well into his seventies. In 1992, he sold the
restaurant to his niece, Katherine Thanas. It remains in the
Thanas family today. Lou Mitchell’s was listed in the National
Register of Historic Places in May 2006.