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The Untold Secrets Behind Ann Sather: Unveiling the Legacy of a Chicago Institution

The Untold Truth of Ann Sather: A Chicago Institution

If you live in Chicago or have ever visited the city, you’re probably familiar with Ann Sather Restaurant. This popular eatery has become a beloved institution, known for its delicious brunch fare and, of course, its famous cinnamon rolls. In this article, we’ll delve into the untold truth of Ann Sather, exploring the restaurant’s history, its founder, and the secrets behind its delicious dishes.

A Dream Realized: Ann Sather’s Journey

Ann Sather, the restaurant’s namesake and founder, always dreamed of opening her own restaurant. After 22 years as a dedicated career woman, she decided to take the plunge and pursue her passion. In 1945, Sather seized the opportunity to purchase The Swedish Diner on Chicago’s Belmont Avenue. With her Norwegian heritage and a desire to incorporate Scandinavian influences into her dishes, she transformed the space and menu, adding her personal touch to create a unique dining experience.

A Home Away from Home: The Cozy Atmosphere

One of the reasons Ann Sather’s has become a Chicago institution is its cozy and inviting atmosphere. The restaurant offers comfort food at affordable prices, made from scratch with quality ingredients. Families, friends, locals and tourists alike have embraced Ann Sather’s as a place where they feel like they’re visiting a friend rather than just another customer. The warm atmosphere and friendly service make every visit a memorable one.

Extending the legacy: Tom Tunney Takes the Reins

After 35 years of running the restaurant, Ann Sather decided it was time to retire. She wanted to ensure that her legacy would continue, so she sold the business to Tom Tunney, an up-and-coming Chicago businessman. Tunney, who had studied hotel and restaurant management at Cornell University and had a background in the hospitality industry, trained closely with Sather for over a year to learn the ins and outs of the business. In 1981, he officially took over the Ann Sather Restaurant and has since expanded it to two additional locations in Edgewater and Boystown.

Cinnamon Roll Craze: Ann Sather’s Signature Delight

One of the highlights of dining at Ann Sather’s is indulging in their famous cinnamon rolls. These delicious treats have earned a reputation as the best cinnamon rolls in Chicago. Originally included as part of the bread baskets, Tom Tunney decided to give them the spotlight they deserved. Now available as a separate menu item, Ann Sather’s sells about 6,000 cinnamon rolls a day. The recipe remains a closely guarded secret, but the combination of a specially made yeast product, soft margarine, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a diagonal rolling technique creates the rich layers of flavor. The rolls are served fresh from the oven with a delicious glaze for the perfect finishing touch.

A Chicago Legacy Continues

Today, Ann Sather’s remains a beloved Chicago institution. Tom Tunney’s dedication to preserving the restaurant’s traditions and commitment to serving wholesome, made-from-scratch food has ensured its continued success. With the recent sale of the Belmont Avenue location, Ann Sather’s future is assured for at least the next decade, allowing fans to enjoy its delicious offerings for years to come.

Bottom line

Ann Sather Restaurant has left an indelible mark on Chicago’s dining scene. From its humble beginnings as a Swedish diner to its status as a cherished institution, Ann Sather’s has captured the hearts and taste buds of locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re in the mood for a comforting brunch or a delicious cinnamon roll, this Chicago gem delivers memorable experiences and flavors that keep guests coming back for more.


Who was Ann Sather?

Ann Sather was the founder of the Ann Sather Restaurant, a beloved Chicago eatery known for its comfort food and famous cinnamon rolls. She fulfilled her dream of opening her own restaurant in 1945 after purchasing The Swedish Diner on Belmont Avenue.

What makes Ann Sather’s cinnamon rolls so special?

Ann Sather’s cinnamon rolls are legendary in Chicago. While the exact recipe remains a secret, they are made with a combination of specially made yeast, soft margarine, cinnamon and brown sugar. The rolls are rolled diagonally to create layers of flavor and served fresh from the oven with a delicious glaze.

How did Ann Sather’s go from a Swedish diner to a Chicago institution?

Ann Sather took over The Swedish Diner and put her own personal touch on the space and menu, infusing it with Scandinavian influences. Her dedication to serving fresh, homemade comfort food at affordable prices quickly gained a loyal following. When Ann Sather retired, Tom Tunney took over and expanded the restaurant, cementing its status as a Chicago institution.

Can I visit Ann Sather’s original location?

Yes, you can still visit the original Ann Sather’s location on Belmont Avenue in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood. It remains a beloved spot where you can experience the restaurant’s warm and welcoming atmosphere and indulge in its delicious offerings.

Who is the current owner of the Ann Sather Restaurant?

Tom Tunney, an up-and-coming Chicago businessman, is the current owner of Ann Sather Restaurant. He purchased the restaurant from Ann Sather herself in 1981 and has since expanded it to additional locations in Edgewater and Boystown. Tunney has remained dedicated to preserving Ann Sather’s legacy and ensuring the restaurant’s continued success.

What can I expect to find on the menu at Ann Sather’s?

Ann Sather’s offers a variety of comfort foods made from scratch with quality ingredients. Their menu includes favorites such as eggs Benedict, breakfast wraps, Swedish pancakes, and of course, their famous cinnamon rolls. In recent years, they have added lunch and entree options to satisfy a wider range of cravings.

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