From 1965 to 1995, one of Chicago’s most elegant restaurants served up both French cuisine and glamour in what had formerly been one of Chicago’s fanciest private homes.
Chez Paul, at the corner of East Erie and North Rush Streets in River North, was a storied place, the kind of restaurant that makes its way into gossip columns and movies.
In fact, in 1980 the restaurant appeared in The Blues Brothers: John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, as Jake and Elwood, pulled up to the front of the restaurant, screeched to a halt, and proceeded to dine inside, horrifying the genteel patrons. Their waiter, by the way, was played by Paul Reubens of Pee-wee Herman fame.
Chez Paul occupied a mansion built in 1875 for industrialists Leander McCormick and his son Robert Hall McCormick and was originally constructed as two-side by-side homes. They lived across the street from Leander’s brother and business partner Cyrus McCormick, whose even grander home filled an entire block.
The McCormicks were all in the family business of manufacturing mechanical agricultural reapers. They met with great success and were one of the wealthiest families in America, but they didn’t all get along; in fact, the two brothers were said to not be on speaking terms due to differences about how to run the business.
Chez Paul closed its doors in 1995, two years after the death of its owner; today the building is used as office space.