Italian Beef sales surge due to FX series

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    Mike Nolan

      The FX series "The Bear", with some exterior scenes filmed at a Chicago Mr. Beef restaurant, has popularized the Italian beef sandwich, and its popularity has been spreading to other cities. Some restaurants report 5 to 6 fold increases in the number of Italian beef sandwiches sold each day, and selling out of product regularly.

      The Chicago Tribune has a good article on this today, but it is behind their paywall. You may be able to find it, or similar stories, by googling it.

      You can also find recipes online for making your own Italian beef. I've done it with mixed results. One absolute necessity is a meat slicer so you can get thinly sliced beef. I also haven't found a recipe for rolls that stand up to being dunked in the au jus. I like them WET!

      I got a fairly decent Italian beef at a mall store two weeks ago, but when I went back to that restaurant last week, they were out of Italian beef. So I had a couple of Chicago hot dogs, which were pretty good, too.

      Spread the word

        My son in New Zealand said I HAD to watch The Bear, 1) because he says it’s good and 2) because we work in food and beverage - we both worked at the 5-star restaurant for the resort (5-6 years ago). I’m happier working at The Market and he’s happier working at a restaurant in Wellington where they moved in April - they love Wellington!

        Mike Nolan

          I don't have Hulu, so I'm not sure there's anywhere I can watch it.


            Kate has Hulu set up so I'll have to watch this. I have not found good Italian beef outside of Chicago. Portillo's has become a chain and they have passable food in Minneapolis but it is kind of like eating at an Uno's after you've had the real thing when it was a dive in Chicago.

            Now the country will wreck another Chicago staple.

            I like Jeremy Allen White and he seems to be making a career out of playing seedy Chicagoans!

            Mike Nolan

              The guy who founded Portillo's sold the company to a Boston-based private equity group a couple of years ago, for about $900 million. He retained ownership of a number of the buildings, though. A typical Portillo's has a yearly turn of over $7 million, or about twice the typical McDonalds. Chick-Fil-A also has a high average store volume, which I can believe given the lines I see in their drive-thru nearly every day. (Unfortunately, all their chicken is marinated in a garlic marinade, so my wife can't eat there.)

              The Tribune had an article a while back ranking 30 non-chain Italian Beef shops. Now that's research that you can sink your teeth into!

              In Chicago Al's Beef is generally considered the best of the chains, Mr. Beef is pretty good, too. (I've only been to an Al's once, I thought the beef was too greasy, maybe that wasn't representative, though.) I've seen frozen Italian Beef in stores, including Sams Club, the brand is Charlie's. It's OK, but I need to find a sturdier bun recipe, or just stick with Rotella, made in Omaha, they're not quite as good as the buns in Chicago but hold up better when dipped than my home-made ones do.

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