Hackney’s still makes a great burger
Siblings and co-owners of Hackney’s on Lake Jim Masterson and Sally and Sally Landri.| Lee Litas~Sun-Times Media
1514 E. Lake Ave., Glenview
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Saturday
(847) 724-7171 or see: hackneys.net
Updated: August 9, 2012 4:38PM
“We’ve been around a long time but that doesn’t make us fuddy-duddies,” said Jim Masterson, co-owner of Hackney’s, a veritable North Shore institution in Glenview since 1939.
“We shouldn’t get so surprised when someone doesn’t know who the heck we are. People are moving around all the time and it’s our sustainable job to keep introducing ourselves to them and saying this worked 70 years ago and it still works today in terms of food, service and what we offer,” said Masterson.
What Uncle Jack and Aunt Bebe Hackney started by serving hamburgers and beer off their back porch during Prohibition, has evolved over seven decades into five restaurants in Glenview, Chicago, Lake Zurich and Palos Park.
While over the years the menu branched out to include Americanized ethnic favorites like quesadillas and humus, anyone will tell you that the main reason to go to a Hackney’s is for their burgers.
“We’ve gotten many awards through the years (and) probably pay more per pound than anyone around just because we’re so fussy on the recipe,” said Masterson.
Identifiable by being served on their signature black bread, still made according to aunt Bebe’s 85-year-old recipe, every Hackneyburger is made of a half pound of fresh, grilled-to-taste ground beef ($9.95/$10.95 w/cheese).
“You might want to call it pumpernickel but it’s a little different,” said Masterson, noting that the family has tried to find similar bread in stores. “We’ve always preferred ours and that’s why we maintain a bakery right on the premises.”
Consequently, that bakery has been supplying all the Hackney’s with baked goods since 1977. They can even make some to go, given notice (Hackney’s Dark Rye, $4.45; white/wheat $3.39/ half-dozen buns $1.99).
And what goes better with burgers than fried onions? Hackney’s Original French Fried Onions (full $7.95/half $6.95/ quarter order $3.95) have been named one of the top three onion rings in the USA by Restaurant Business magazine. While not technically rings — more like a loaf or a brick shaped by the basket in which they’re cooked — the deep-fried morsels have been a mistake-made-good since the 1950s.
According to Masterson’s sister and Hackney’s co-owner Sally Landri, the onion ring lore dates way back to a time when one couple came in for their weekly perch fix only to find the restaurant was out. Carmen the cook did some quick thinking and whipped up a batch of her mother’s sweet Spanish onions in batter. It was an instant hit.
“So from a mistake to keep the customers busy, it turned into this thing which really, we’re probably most famous for,” said Landri, calling the presentation of the dish “a great call to table.”
Staying in touch with the community is important to the Hackney’s organization. On Aug. 9, they hold their annual charity golf outing, fittingly named “The Onion Open,” benefiting the Glenview Giving Foundation, part of Helping Hands of Glenview.
Able to accommodate more than 600 guests at once, Hackney’s on Lake offers a bit of nostalgia with their solidly-good fare, and the reason it all came about.
“We are and always have been a great hamburger,” said Masterson.
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