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updated: 8/26/2011 3:59 PM

Founder of Mundelein's Gale Street Inn remembered as a jovial man

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  • George J. Chioles died Aug. 21. A funeral Mass will be said Monday for the founder of the Gale Street Inn restaurant, which has locations in Chicago and Mundelein.

    George J. Chioles died Aug. 21. A funeral Mass will be said Monday for the founder of the Gale Street Inn restaurant, which has locations in Chicago and Mundelein.
    Photo courtesy Chioles family


The founder of the Gale Street Inn eateries is being remembered as a jovial man who loved the restaurant business.

George J. Chioles, 83, of Mundelein, died Aug. 21 at his home.

Chioles' restaurants, first in Chicago and then in Mundelein, long have been popular hangouts, and he loved spending time with his customers, daughter-in-law Vicki Chioles recalled.

"It was his stage, and those people were his audience," she said.

Chioles' death comes just three months after his wife, Joan, died.

Born and raised in Chicago, Chioles had several jobs in different fields until he and his wife bought a Jefferson Park tavern in 1963.

Set at the corner of Gale Street and Milwaukee Avenue, the eatery was dubbed the Gale Street Inn and was quickly known for large sandwiches and baskets of peanuts, the shells of which were tossed on the floor by customers.

It was a family operation from the start, with the Chioles children working in the kitchen and busing tables at young ages.

The restaurant moved across the street on Milwaukee Avenue in 1969 after Chicago officials purchased the original site to make way for the Jefferson Park bus terminal.

The Mundelein location opened on Diamond Lake Road in 1975 in the former Happy Hollow Resort building. An electrical fire destroyed the place and killed a cook in 1976, leading to the construction of a new Gale Street Inn Diamond Lake in 1977.

The restaurant was known for its barbecue ribs and for its lakeside location. It wasn't uncommon for people to take their boats to the restaurant after a day on Diamond Lake, Assistant Village Administrator Michael Flynn said.

Flynn called the restaurant a destination for diners, and not just those from Mundelein.

"It was a landmark," Flynn said. "People would come from all over to go there. And in that sense, George put Mundelein on the map."

The Chioles family sold the Chicago restaurant in 1985 but continued operating the Mundelein location, which moved across Diamond Lake Road in 2002.

Chioles typically could be founded at the cash register or near the phone, Vicki Chioles said.

"That allowed him to see everyone who came in," said Vicki Chioles, who helps run the restaurant now.

And even when he wasn't visible there, people knew when he was present because of his booming voice and enthusiastic greetings.

"You knew when he was in the building, no matter where he was," Vicki Chioles said.

Flynn praised Chioles for being an early property developer in the Diamond Lake neighborhood and for "having faith in that section of Mundelein."

Visitation is set to run from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Kristan Funeral Home in Mundelein and again from 10 to 11 a.m. Monday at St. Mary of Vernon Church in Indian Creek.

Mass will be said at 11 a.m. Monday at the church.

Burial will follow at Elmwood Cemetery in River Grove.

Chioles' survivors include three children, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and a brother.

Instead of flowers, memorials may be made in Chioles' name to Cheryl Brocious at Canine Companions for Independence, North Central Region, 4989 State Route 37, East Delaware, Ohio, 43015.