Saturday, October 01, 2011

Of Katz and Katzman: Unique Longtime Local Merchants Get Some Well-Deserved Press

I'm currently in the midst of writing a profile piece on a unique Chicago retail establishment and its erstwhile, rather singular owner. Hopefully I'll have it finished and posted in the next few days.

In the meantime, I'm happy to draw your attention to a couple fine articles that were published this week about area proprietors of a similar nature.

Bob Katzman is the owner of Magazine Museum, a back issue emporium in Skokie. I wrote this Seth Saith feature on him back in January and just yesterday happened upon Michael Miner's story about him in the current Chicago Reader, which you can read online.

While I was tickled to see Bob get such prominent press, I was chagrined to read that his store is struggling to survive. Should you have interest in buying old magazines for nostalgia, unique gifts, stage props, etc., or any of the 50,000 posters Bob is liquidating for just $10 each, or mini-flags from any of world's countries, be sure to stop by the Magazine Museum at 4906 W. Oakton in Skokie. If nothing else, you'll undoubtedly agree that--like its owner--it's entirely one-of-a-kind.

Similarly distinctive is Burt Katz and his Burt's Place pizzeria in Morton Grove. Located on a residential street, around the corner from Pequod's (at least until it opens in a new, larger location next year), which is the pizza restaurant he used to own and run, Burt's Place is a small, kitschy joint in a building dating to the late 1880s. Burt makes the pizza--itself rather unique and quite good--and his wife Sharon (incidentally a high school friend of my mom's) waits on tables and takes orders over the phone, a requirement for anyone who wants to eat there.

The long-bearded Burt, who hasn't shaved since 1971, was the subject of a long story in Thursday's Chicago Tribune by Christopher Borrelli, promoted on the paper's front page and also readily available to read online.

Although I've eaten at Burt's Place a couple times and interacted with Sharon, I've never talked to Burt. So the article was rather illuminating, revealing that before starting Pequod's, he had also founded Gulliver's on Howard in Chicago, as well as a long-closed place called The Inferno. That's quite a pizza legacy, which in his own iconoclastic way, Burt extends every day, not only by making the pies at his eponymous pizzeria, but by buying all the necessary ingredients at local markets rather than relying on corporate food suppliers.

So even if you have to order ahead, a trip to Burt's Place -- 8541 Ferris Ave., Morton Grove, IL. Phone: 847-965-7997 -- will be well worth it. As will be reading the story about him.

No comments: