Founder of Chicago beef shop that inspired 'The Bear' dies

Streaming HUBMarch 7, 2023

CHICAGO (AP) – Joseph Zucchero, the founder of the Chicago Italian beef shop that inspired FX’s “The Bear,” has died at age 69, his son said.

Mr. Beef, the no-frills sandwich in Chicago’s River North, has been a neighborhood staple for decades. But it became a national sensation after being featured by the gritty, fast-paced show that released in June 2022.

His son Christopher Zucchero, co-owner of the restaurant, said Zucchero died unexpectedly on March 1 at Rush Medical Center while being treated for cancer. He said, ‘He had to come home.

Zucchero said the family is waiting to find out the exact cause of his father’s death.

“He was a wonderful human being. He was charismatic. He loved his restaurant. .. He loved his family, his kids,” Zucchero said.

Nothing will be the same without his father at Mr. Beef, Zucchero said.

“There’s going to be a huge … void here,” he said. “I’m in shock … We act like he’s still here. That’s how we’re going to maintain and persevere, act like he’s about to come around the corner.

Mr. Beef’s doors remained open after the elder Zucchero’s unexpected passing, his son said.

“We didn’t take any time off” – which is what his father wanted. For 44 years, “Mr. Beef was always open, he said it was open,” Zucchero said.

The only exceptions: while “Bear” was shooting, and this Saturday, when his father’s funeral and services will be held.

“He was a tough man. He was tough, but he was also fair. He was loved by everyone,” Zucchero said.

The Italian beef legend was “excited” when Christopher Storer, creator of “The Bear” and childhood friend of Christopher Zucchero, centered the show on his shop.

His son said, ‘He is very proud of it.


Savage is a core member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercover issues.

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