ELMHURST – Among the stuffed game displays, paintings and other decorations at Mack’s Golden Pheasant restaurant is nearly seven decades of local history.
What first began as a bar began serving food in 1948 and has been providing patrons with family Czech recipes along with newer fare ever since, always run by the Mack family.
Current patriarch Steve Mack and wife Debra now own the restaurant, operating it alongside several decades-long employees and children Jessica Mack-Grady and Lukas Mack, keeping up a tradition of care passed down from Steve’s grandfather.
“We focus on quality,” Steve said. “We’re not a corporation who can put $5 million on a new place, so we have to be different than corporations. We have something they can’t compete with – atmosphere.”
The two high school sweethearts have taken the classic location and folded in their own personalities, including big screens in the bar area and loud music after the restaurant clears out. That also goes for the menu, featuring the classics of wiener schnitzel and roast duck are steaks, fresh salads, fish and even chicken marsala, all cooked in-house.
Steve has spent his whole life at the restaurant, growing up on the second floor of the building. His father Donald and grandfather Donald rebuilt it after a 1962 fire, and the building withstood the Elmhurst floods of 1987. Though the back patio is no longer filled with birds, it still contains a 200-year-old oak.
Debra said just like the family’s multigenerational caretaking of the old standby, many patrons and their descendents had become regulars and friends.
“We get people who say they came here when they were 4 and now they’re 64,” she said. “It’s a neighborhood place.”
Though both acknowledged running the business, especially in such an old building, often made for long days and a range of job unexpected, responsibilities, Steve said it was the only life they knew and the life they loved.
“It’s a social business,” Debra said. “It’s a very satisfying way to do things – the right way.”
Mack’s Golden Pheasant
■ WHERE: 668 W. North Ave., Elmhurst
Dining room: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Bar: 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday
■ PHONE: 630-279-8544
■ WEB: macksgoldenpheasant.com