Beverly Woods closes

Opened in 1954, Beverly Woods Restaurant closed on Sept. 17. The McGann Family reached their decision to close after consideration of personal and business factors. The local landmark is now for sale. (Review photo)

Beverly Woods Restaurant has closed its doors after 63 years in business near the corner of 115th Street and Western Avenue.

According to owner Bill McGann, a combination of factors led to the decision to close the family business that opened in 1954 at 11532 S. Western Ave.

He said that although its banquet facilities are booked through the end of the year, Beverly Woods has suffered the effects of the financial crisis of 2008, the recent minimum-wage increase to $11 an hour, rising to $13 by 2019, and the controversial penny-per-ounce soda tax in Cook County.

Also influencing the decision, said McGann, 67, was the investment of time and money needed to update the business and its facilities as well as the physical rigors of running a successful banquet hall, which include moving numerous tables and chairs in quick order to accommodate parties in its four private rooms in the morning, afternoon and evening on weekends.

“It’s a difficult decision,” McGann said. “I’ve been doing this for 40 years, and there’s never a good time to close; but we considered all the options and just felt it’s time to go off into the sunset.”

He said that banquet customers with reservations for coming months are being informed of the closure, and all deposits are being returned.

The business had 40 employees, 12 of them full-time, McGann said, and they are now seeking other employment. His son Jack, 27, and daughter Margaret, 29, took over the management of the business in 2015, and they will pursue other opportunities.

Known for its homemade rolls, fried chicken and buffet, Beverly Woods also had a full-service bar.

McGann’s father, Jack, who died in 2000, was an original partner in Beverly Woods with Jack and Tom Bowler. Jack Bowler died in 1963, and Tom died in 1979.

Bill McGann became owner in 2001 after first working there at age 15. He said his family is proud of the longevity of their business in an industry where most restaurants only last three to six years.

“We have been there 63 years, and our philosophy was always give people quality at a great price and keep the place busy and fun,” said McGann. “Three generations of our family worked there, and now it is time to move on. Hopefully, a more dynamic and modern business will be welcomed into our great neighborhood.”

McGann said real estate agent Chuck Groebe is handling the sale of Beverly Woods and can be reached at (708) 205-8703.

The business thrived for many decades, McGann said, and was a popular gathering place for local residents, friends and family. It provided for his family as well as the families of his longtime employees. However, the economic climate never fully recovered after the U.S. financial crisis of 2008.

He also said the minimum wage increase brought negative reactions from longtime employees who bristled at less-qualified staff being paid such a wage.

“The older experienced employees demanded the same raises. Our payroll skyrocketed,” McGann said. “We tried increasing prices, and customers complained about the slight increases and in many cases cancelled events.”

The beverage tax in Cook County, McGann said, doubled his beverage expense “overnight.”

“We always included beverages in our buffet and banquets,” he said. “Well, that doesn’t work anymore, and our regular customers were livid.”

Local leaders reacted to news of the closure of Beverly Woods Restaurant.

“It’s sad to see them close,” said 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea. “All the memories that all the generations have of Beverly Woods and the McGann Family. They were so supportive of so many charitable causes and were always good to us with our senior events.”

O’Shea said he will also miss something else.

“Of course, the rolls. There’s nothing better on a cold winter day than their soup and some of their rolls.”

According to Caroline Connors, executive director of the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association, those sentiments are shared by many.

“The restaurant and banquet facilities were a favorite gathering place to share a meal with family and friends, whether it was Sunday morning breakfast, a weekday business luncheon or an elegant evening event,” Connors said. “The Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association thanks Beverly Woods Restaurant for its many years of service to the Beverly/Morgan Park community and wishes the McGann Family and their employees success in their future endeavors.”

Although the McGann Family is closing a chapter in their lives, McGann said, they will always have fond memories of Beverly Woods Restaurant.

“Our family wants to bid everyone a heartfelt farewell,” McGann said, “and we thank everyone for many fun and interesting years.”