September 26, 2007

Stella's Rancho Steaks 1116 Leland, Circa 1944

The back of the card reads:

Chicago's Newest and Most Unique Steak House, Blending the rugged atmosphere of "Rancho" with Western Hospitality. Food Skillfully Prepared and Cheerfully Served by Our Cow Hands. Complete Dinners Daily 5 P.M.—2 A.M. Sunday from 3 P.M. Air Conditioned—Telephone: LONgbeach 7569

The address puts it in the recently rehabbed building at the northwest corner of Leland and Winthrop. While (unsuccessfully) searching for more information on this steak house, I did find mention of an earlier establishment in the same location. Something called The Golden Spot, with live entertainment, occupied it in the thirties.

It's too bad that the new rehab didn't include ground level retail and dining; instead, the developers chose to add street-level condos that, in my opinion, look a bit awkward for that building.


Jason said...

The developers of the West Leland Condominiums was VERY restricted by the city as to what they could and could not do to the building due to the historical facade that the building has.

The original plan was to tear the current building down, and build a NEW 8 store building that would of had retail on the bottom floor. But the City and Inspectors said NO.

Just thought I would provide you with some history about the building :)

Joanne said...


Thanks very much for your post. I did attend a community meeting that revealed the plan for the 8-story building and, like many in the neighborhood, I was glad that didn't happen and am delighted that this beauty is still around for--hopefully--another eighty or so years.

Still, I was disappointed that the ground level spaces couldn't be reopened as retail, and I'm still not sure why that was the case. Can you elaborate on what department said "no retail" and why not?

The building is a "contributing structure" to a historic district, but it isn't a protected building. Few in the area are; in the last year, we've lost two beautiful terracotta buildings in Uptown. (One at Argyle/Broadway had its facade stripped and cement "renaissance stone" adhered to it. The contractor for that said it was a shame, as it was in good condition. The other was on Sheridan between Argyle and Ainslie; that one remains an empty lot.) The city doesn't normally go out of its way to save historic facades.

I was disappointed to walk by one day during construction and see the dumpster in front of the West Leland Condominiums filled with large pieces of terracotta from the east facade. In rebuilding that wall, which I hear the inspectors required, because it was leaning, I would have thought the terracotta could be salvaged and reused or at the very least replicated, so it matches the architect's rendition of the Condos. That didn't happen. It's a plain brick wall.

But all whining aside, I'm glad the building wasn't torn down and that a good chunk of the decorative elements remain. Also, the interior units are rather nice with lovely detail and interesting layouts. I particularly like the private patio and deck spaces in the back that you can't see from the street.



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