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David Lissner
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Farewell, Phil Georgouses, Charcoal Oven founder

Phillip Georgouses

Phillip Georgouses

It’s a rare thing for a restaurant to survive over six decades with the same owner. We’re sad to hear of the death of Phil Georgouses, 87, the genial founder and host of Charcoal Oven in Skokie, one of the oldest, extant restaurants in the north suburbs.

Visitors to this fine-dining spot with its distinctive neon sign, near Old Orchard Shopping Center, will remember Georgouses as the gracious older gentleman who welcomed them when they arrived and sent them on their way with a parting gift, often ripe tomatoes “from a Greek farmer” or a loaf of fresh bread. His charm, as well as his fine food, kept customers coming for more than 60 years

Georgouses opened what became a north-suburban landmark in 1949, taking over the former Little Club Bar, where he’d worked while a student at Northwestern. By the 1960s, he’d turned the tavern into a clubby, white-tablecloth, destination restaurant serving fresh fish, Greek specialties and steaks and chops, as it continues to do in old-fashioned comfort to this day. Georgouses was at his restaurant nearly every day until just a few years ago, when his daughter Maria and son-in-law Rich Franco took over daily operations.

Georgouses, right, at his bar, in the 1950s.

Georgouses, right, at his bar, in the 1950s.

According to a notice in the Chicago Sun-Times, the restaurateur was decorated veteran of World War II, who served in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day, as well as in the Liberation of Paris and the Battle of the Bulge.

He’s survived by his wife, Patricia, and his four daughters (Maria, Tina, Elena and Barbara) and their families. Our condolences go out to all his family and friends.

Visitation will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2, at Donnellan Family Funeral Home, 10045 Skokie Blvd., Skokie, with funeral services at 10:30 a.m. Monday at Saint Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, 5649 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, followed by burial at Memorial Park Cemetery in Skokie. For more information, call the funeral home at (847) 675-1990.