Kukec People: Former musician from Mount Prospect finds niche as restauranteur
About two years ago, Mount Prospect resident Richard Schweigel and his wife Penny opened Mother Cluckers, a restaurant in Chicago specializing in chicken dishes from family recipes, including those from a relative of the famous Hatfield-and-McCoy feud.
The restaurant has been so accepted by the surrounding neighborhoods, that they are looking to open a second location in the suburbs. Whether that second location will sport photos of Schweigel in his previous career as a musician, along with the band his father started, is still unknown. But Schweigel enjoys paying homage to that part of his life for one reason: his dad.
"Everything I've done is because of my dad," said Schweigel, 55.
The younger Schweigel started at 12 in his father's band, the Keytones, and continued through his late 20s. While the group performed some traditional Polish and American songs, especially at weddings, it later became more Americanized.
Schweigel, who played saxophone and guitar and sang, took over the band in the 1980s. He then changed the group's name to Impulse, which continued to play until about 2003. They performed throughout the region at corporate parties, the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort, and, of course, at weddings.
"But I got tired of the wedding scene," he said.
So he started performing as a freelance musician for a few more years.
In the meantime, whenever their family entertained at home, friends and relatives bragged about their cooking. He had many family recipes, including the bread pudding recipe from his great grandmother, Melissa Hatfield of the famous Hatfield-and-McCoys feud.
With some of those recipes in hand, Schweigel began eyeing some properties in areas he had traveled during his band days, including a triangle-shaped property at Elston and Foster, which he ultimately renovated and opened. There are no TVs, only music provided inside the restaurant.
His wife, Penny, and son, Tim, both work with him at Mother Cluckers and he hopes to one day hand down the restaurant to his son, he said.
"It's definitely a lot more work than I expected, but it's been going well," he said. "It's nothing fancy, but it's a good place with good food."
He said he doesn't want to be an absentee owner and works on site. He enjoys talking with the customers and learning what they want.
"I really enjoy being around people and really enjoy their smiles when they enjoy the food," he said.
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