Legendary pizza-maker Burt Katz is reopening his famed Burt’s Place restaurant at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 14.
The doors have been closed for three months while Katz was hospitalized for a mysterious illness that caused multiple organs to fail. Doctors eventually found unknown toxins in Katz’s blood.
After weeks of blood treatments, surgery and physical therapy, the 76-year-old says he’s ready to start the oven again.
“This is still a trial run for me, but I’m determined,” Katz said. “Once we’re open to the public, seeing all the smiles and happy customers will give me a good boost.”
At the insistence of his doctor and wife Sharon, Katz can only work evening hours (4:30 to 10 p.m.) for the first few weeks. He encourages customers to call ahead to make sure the restaurant is open, and so he can tell them to take the train instead of paying cab fares.
Word of Katz’s reopening began to spread just prior the Nov. 11 Morton Grove Village Board meeting, after Katz stopped by to invite Mayor Dan DiMaria to a private VIP opening earlier in the week, which will also include long-time customers.
DiMaria later told the meeting’s audience and cable TV viewers of Katz’s Nov. 17 public reopening.
Momentum built throughout the last two weeks, as Katz made appearances at three village events and was also spotted outside the restaurant numerous times.
Katz prides himself in being a one-man operation.
The well-traveled pizza-maker first gained fame when he opened The Inferno in Evanston and later opened Gulliver’s in Chicago’s Rogers Park.
Katz took a “hiatus” to experiment in a corporate oil company, but said the higher pay wasn’t worth the restrictive working conditions. He hasn’t shaved his beard since he quit his corporate job on March 12, 1971 and decided to open Pequod’s in Morton Grove.
After growing bored of Pequod’s, Katz sold it and opened Burt’s Place down the street in 1989.