Myron and Phil: A mob legend served saints and sinners

May 8, 2013 4:42:54 PM PDT
There was an incredible intersection of events Wednesday at one of Chicago's most legendary restaurants.

There was a fire at Myron & Phil Steakhouse in north suburban Lincolnwood and the death of restaurant's patriarch in a nearby nursing home.

In fire and tragedy, the legend of Myron and Phil deepens, even though there is no evidence that the death and the fire are anything more than a coincidence involving a storied eatery and a restaurateur with a penchant for dramatic storylines.

The I-Team doesn't normally report on restaurant fires or the death of a restaurant owner, but this story falls onto our plate because of the restaurant's rich history, heaping with connections to the Chicago outfit.

It served saints and sinners. Myron and Phil was made infamous because of its connections to the mob that surfaced in the early 1990's.

At 3 a.m. Wednesday morning, well after closing, a fire was reported in a back storage area of the iconic steakhouse.

Several suburban fire departments responded to the four-alarm fire and so did the current owner, Mark Freedman.

While Freedman was there, his phone rang with even worse news: his father, Myron Freedman had died a half hour earlier.

Myron Freedman was 95-years-old and one half of the restaurant's namesake.

Not only was this a popular dining haunt for some hoodlums of Chicago notoriety, but it became a popular shakedown target of organized crime.

During the 1992 federal extortion trial of gangland boss Gus Alex, it was revealed that the restaurant's owners were the threatened and cajoled by mobsters into paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in street taxes over two decades.

Among them was North Side crew boss Lennie Patrick, who admitted ordering Myron Freedman to cough up a $100,000 payment to stay in business, then maintenance payments of $1,500 per month to the mob for more than a decade.

Both made the restaurant a Chicago legend and it's late founder Myron Freedman legendary. Even though he is gone, his son says the restaurant will rebuild from the fire and be back soon.

Myron and Phil both testified under grants of immunity in the 1992 trial of Gus Alex, who was convicted of shaking down several popular restaurants, a car dealer and other businesses.

From modern day mob victims back to pre-Depression days when the Freedman family started in the restaurant business, they have seen it all.


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