About

Our Story…

Welcome to The Great Escape

Al and Marie Great opened their first restaurant on North Avenue in 1958 called The Drift Inn. It was a warm neighborhood place which specialized in the best baby back ribs and broasted chicken that the Chicago area had ever tasted. The business ran successfully until 1981 when Al and Marie sold the business and retired. Many years passed and people were asking when the Great family would get back into the restaurant business. Well here it is, revived by the entire family, we proudly bring you – 

The Great Escape

Combining a terrific restaurant, lounge and banquet facility with our timeless and tasty recipes, The Great Escape is truly the place to be for all occasions. Thank you for coming!

Building History

The bar and Banquet Room are still a part of the original structure built on this site in 1889. The bar is original and was hand carved by the Chicago Bar Company. The building was originally at street level. There were swinging doors leading out onto a dirt road with hitching posts for horses (Irving Park Road). The silent movie cowboy Tom Mix made a few of his movies here around 1900. They would use the Des Plaines River as the Rio Grande and our bar for saloon scenes. In the 1920’s, Al Capone sold the place booze and was spotted at the bar doing business with local gagsters. Witnesses say there were men seated on either side of him with shot guns watching the door. Before its current use, the banquet room was home to a general store, milk depot, post office, gas station, barber shop, pool hall, and restaurant. The Irving Park Viaduct was dug in 1926 and our entrance was moved to the east side of the building. The main dining room and kitchen were added on in the 1980’s to expand the restaurant business. The Great Escape took over in 1992 and has been preserving, maintaining, and improving the property ever since. We hope you agree!

What Separates Us From The Herd

Our Wind Turbine - Green Energy

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Stats:

Tower = 80ft Blades = 32ft each = wing span 62ft Foundation = 8ft around and 30ft deep Cost = $375,000.00 Concrete = 9 Cement trucks Total height = 112ft

 
Productivity:

108kw turbine produces 120% of the electric needs of the restaurant.

 
Info:

Wiring between turbine & building all underground. Mortgaged building in order to finance the project ($375,000.00)

The Great Escape Hauntings

A man in a black suit carrying a clip board walks into a closet and disappears, that feeling that someone is standing right next to you, walking through a very cold spot in a dark hallway, the sounds of 1920′s music forming from the basement after hours, an antique radio plays without being touched and upon investigation it’s determined that there were no wires hooked up to it and the old tubes inside were burned out.

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Happy Customers

We love this place! Great family restaurant with awesome ribs and great breasted chicken. We come here a few times a year and love the old school decor and the friendly service. You must try the mustard crusted bass!
 
Nick P.
Nice extensive gluten free menu. Large portions. Many “doggy bags” were taken home from party. I’d definitely return. Plus, the building is very historic and worth Googling. Good family vibe.
 
 
Lynn F.
Was in Chicago for a conference, went with a decent sized group last minute. They were extremely accommodating, each staff member was more accommodating then the other. Are food and drinks where are fantastic. Not when we return nor one complaint. I highly suggest this restaurant.
 
 
Paula B.
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