My Memories of John’s Garage Restaurant and Filling Station at Ford City Shopping Center in Chicago.

johns garage
John’s Garage Restaurant and Filling Station.

Today I am writing about my memories of John’s Garage Restaurant. They were three locations in the Chicagoland area. Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, IL, Hawthorne Shopping Center in Vernon Hills, IL, and at Ford City Shopping Center in Chicago. I heard there was a fourth location at Fox Valley Shopping Center in Aurora, IL, but someone can verify that for me. The Schaumburg location opened in 1975, and the second one opened at Ford City, probably around the summer of 1978. I am not exactly sure. I will write about the one at Ford City because I lived nearby there.

I have only been to John’s Garage three times. Twice at Ford City and once at Woodfield Mall. The items on the menu that a lot of people raved about to this day are The French Onion Soup, Steak on a Stick, and the Salad Bar. French Onion Soup is not one of my favorites, I prefer chicken noodle. The salad bar is the one I loved so much. I remembered the Thousand Island dressing was awesome! I never had the steak on the stick. I am addicted to hamburgers and I always ordered them there. They were delicious! Whenever I post about John’s Garage on my Facebook page or groups, I get immediate responses from people that fondly remembered the place.

I have applied for a job as a busboy at John’s Garage at Ford City in 1980. I saw John Grivas, the owner of the place, but I was interviewed by the manager of the place, whose name I can’t remember. I wanted to work there, but he discouraged me from working there. He said it’s very chaotic and you had to be very alert at all times. For me, I have always been a slow learner, but looking back on what he said, he was absolutely right. I wouldn’t have lasted there for two days.

When I went to travel school in the summer of 1994 and graduated in August, my instructor and the owner of the school took me and the rest of the class to two places to celebrate for two days. One day it was Carlos Murphy in Lombard and the other one was John’s Garage in Schaumburg. The one in Schaumburg was like the one at Ford City. The menu had a few different items and the restaurant was facing the ice rink. The food was still excellent.

John’s Garage at Ford City closed I believe in the early 90s. Woodfield and Hawthorne closed in the 2000s. John’s Garage at Ford City was one of the hangout spots in the mall that people lived in the neighborhood. Others were Wizard of Games, Tally Ho Restaurant, Harvest House Restaurant, Ford City Bowling Center, Ford City Cinema, Orange Julius, and of course, the stores downstairs at Peacock Alley. I don’t know if anyone could open a restaurant like John’s Garage today. It was unique and struck a chord with everyone. I wished it would be in business today. Thank you. Pete Kastanes-Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook page.

9 thoughts on “My Memories of John’s Garage Restaurant and Filling Station at Ford City Shopping Center in Chicago.

  1. Ill always remember this place because mynda had a restored 56 Nash metropolitan and that was the same car displayed in the restaurant and on the menus.

  2. Ford city closed in 2000 or after because my son was born in 99 and I worked there during my pregnancy. I believed they closed because the new owners that bought John’s garage in 99 had no restaurant experience. They were very rude business men. The restaurant would probably still be there if they had good owners. Sad they are gone.

    1. i worked there so did my dad my 2 uncles my cousin…my dad took care of the salad bar..i was a bus boy n my 1 of my unckes was the dishwasher…my other uncle b4 he left the restaurant was the cousin was the hostess..

      1. I know this post is from a few years ago, but my Mom and I were just reminiscing…and she got to talking about the Garage Sauce! We’ve been looking online and trying to find ANYONE that worked there that might know the recipe…any chance you or your family might be able to remember?

      2. My fiance then husband was a sergeant of security for Ford city we LOVED John’s garage. We ate there every chance we could afford it. My husband and I got married in 1978 and were married until 2020 when I lost him to liver cancer but we always had fond memories of that place

    1. Went to the auction in 2002 when they closed. Ford City was a ghost town. After the murder that happened in the mall it never fully recovered. Bought a few neon signs and all the lights over the booths.

  3. A new John’s Garage is open in Glenview, IL!!! I am told it is the same family. It’s located in the Glen and they still have those potato skins and great milkshakes!

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