About Us | The Great Escape

Al and Marie Great opened their first restaurant on North Avenue in 1958 called The Drift Inn. It was a warm neighborhood place which specialized in the best baby back ribs and broasted chicken that the Chicago area had ever tasted. The business ran successfully until 1981 when Al and Marie sold the business and retired. Many years passed and people were asking when the Great family would get back into the restaurant business. Well here it is, revived by the entire family, we proudly bring you –

Building History

The bar and Banquet Room are still a part of the original structure built on this site in 1889. The bar is original and was hand carved by the Chicago Bar Company. The building was originally at street level. There were swinging doors leading out onto a dirt road with hitching posts for horses (Irving Park Road). The silent movie cowboy Tom Mix made a few of his movies here around 1900. They would use the Des Plaines River as the Rio Grande and our bar for saloon scenes. In the 1920’s, Al Capone sold the place booze and was spotted at the bar doing business with local gagsters. Witnesses say there were men seated on either side of him with shot guns watching the door. Before its current use, the banquet room was home to a general store, milk depot, post office, gas station, barber shop, pool hall, and restaurant. The Irving Park Viaduct was dug in 1926 and our entrance was moved to the east side of the building. The main dining room and kitchen were added on in the 1980’s to expand the restaurant business. The Great Escape took over in 1992 and has been preserving, maintaining, and improving the property ever since. We hope you agree!