By Mary Mumbrue
Anyone who wonders where the “Baked Hamburger ‘Dog’” was created can wander into Ted’s Snack Shop at the corner of Dodge and Crain. That “Dog,” with its secret sauce, journeyed from grandfather Peter Smyrniotes’ Coney Island Restaurant in Williamsport, Pa., to the newly reopened Ted’s Snack Shop at 1824 Crain St.
Before appearing in Evanston, the “Dog” stopped over at Eleni and Harlabros (Harry)
Smyrniotes’ Copacabana Restaurant at Clark and Lunt in Chicago. Later, the Smyrniotes moved to Evanston and in 1972 opened the original Ted’s Snack Shop.
Back then, Evanston Plaza did not exist, but the employees of the Clayton Mark steel piping company, neighborhood residents and City workers provided a steady stream of customers.
Pitching in were the couple’s four children, Peter, Ana, Georgia and James. They liked the extra spending money they made after school and during the summers. They also had a solid work ethic, which they attributed to their parents.
Both Harry and Eleni were born in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Harry eventually followed his father’s career, establishing himself in the wonderful world of Chicago restaurants. After Harry and Eleni retired in 1983, Ted’s Snack Shop had a succession of tenants. But recently, Ted’s has come full circle: The Smyrniotes’ children have reopened their legacy. Eleni Smrynoites at the present time spends three to four months a year in Greece but lives close by the restaurant the rest of the year.
With grant assistance from the City’s Neighborhood Storefront Improvement Program, the restaurant has a brand new look – welcoming, immaculate and comfortable. The family did most of the inside renovations. The place and the Smyrniotes make customers feel like family as soon as they enter.
When asked about what he likes to cook, Mr. Smyrniotes responded that he “loves to cook in general.” The current menu, he explained, is American. Since the opening, they are still discovering what their customers prefer. Asked what is different about this menu compared to his parents’, Mr. Smyrnoites explained that veggie burgers and veggie omelets would not have appeared back then. But there is still the Baked Hamburger Dog.
Asked about the possibility of a Greek dish or two on the menu, considering their heritage, Mr. Smyrniotes said they are thinking about having a special of the week, so a dish with a Greek twist might be a possibility. For the moment, as the menu states, Ted’s Snack Shop offers a wide variety of “Just Good Food.”
The hours of operation at Ted’s Snack Shop, 1824 Crain St., are 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. The retaurant is closed on Sunday; the telephone is 847-332-1900.