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75 years of prime rib at Lawry’s

Prime rib at Lawry's.

Prime rib at Lawry’s.

It’s been 75 years since Lawry’s The Prime Rib opened its first location in Beverly Hills, Calif. The Chicago branch in Streeterville, the second location, didn’t open till 1974, but they are also celebrating throughout June with a special $75 dinner for two. Each meal features an 8-ounce cut of prime rib, the original spinning bowl salad, mashed potatoes, Yorkshire pudding and the “Quintessential Sundae,” a special 75th-anniversary dessert: Yorkshire Pudding topped with a generous helping of Nutella and Haagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, topped with C.C. Brown’s Hot Fudge Sauce and toasted hazelnuts. (Fresh salmon accompanied by seasonal vegetables is an entree option, too.)

Still family owned, the restaurant was founded on June 15, 1938, by Lawrence Frank and Walter Van de Kamp inspired by London’s famous Simpson-in-the-Strand restaurant and Frank’s childhood memories of Sunday prime rib family dinners. They started out to call it Larry’s, but de Kamp didn’t think that sounded dignified enough.

For many years, prime rib was the only entree they served; seafood wasn’t added to the menu till decades later. Lawry’s claims the introduction of valet parking, tableside service, salad before the entrée and the “doggie bag.”

The gleaming silver rib carts, rolled to tables by Master Carvers who train for six months, were designed by Frank and cost $3,200 in 1937, about the price of a new Cadillac at the time, and weigh 800 pounds each.

Frank also created Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, a blend of 17 herbs and spices, working for three months every night in his home kitchen to create the table seasoning still offered to diners to season their prime rib at the table.

See a Dining Chicago video about Lawry’s

See a video of ex-Lawry’s Chef Jackie Shen

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