Weber Grill - Schaumburg
George Stephen revolutionized backyard grilling when he invented the Weber kettle grill back in 1952. A partner in the Weber Brothers Metal Works, Stephen wasn't planning to start an industry, he was just trying to protect his steaks from rain showers and cook them more evenly. He fashioned a covered grill out of parts that the metal shop used to make Lake Michigan buoys.
By the late 1950s, the grill had sold so well locally that the works was renamed Weber-Stephen Products Co., and Stephen bought out the other owners. Soon afterward, the kettle shaped grills became fixtures in back yards across the Midwest, and then across the country. After George Stephen's death in 1993, his son James assumed management of the Palatine-based company, which remains family-owned.
Launched in 1985, the Weber restaurants use giant, commercial versions of Stephen's kettle to cook steaks, burgers, ribs, chicken and more, using some 2,000 pounds of charcoal daily. This Schaumburg restaurant offers kitchen-side stools where you can watch the cooks grilling. Other locations are in downtown Chicago and Lombard.
—Leah A. Zeldes