Business Spotlight: Beverly Woods Dinner Rolls

By Carrie Channell

The not-so-humble dinner roll from Beverly Woods Banquet Hall, 11532 S Western Ave., has been a Beverly/Morgan Park staple for nearly 50 years. Its origin came over a decade after the restaurant’s 1954 debut. As owner Bill McGann relates it, his brother went off to military school in Indiana in the early 1960s. The school was run by a Catholic order, and the cook, a Brother, wanted to leave the brotherhood and move to Chicago. Learning that the McGanns were in the restaurant business, he offered to share his secret dinner roll recipe if they would give him a job.

It took several years, but job and the promised dinner roll recipe eventually came together, and a neighborhood tradition was born.

The third generation of Beverly Woods cooks are now baking the neighborhood’s favorite rolls using that same recipe. It’s a recipe that can only be made at Beverly Woods. According to McGann, a few friends have attempted it at home without success over the years. A former baker told him that the way the restaurant was set up, and the way the air currents move, affect how the rolls rose, and that simply can’t be replicated.

Beverly Woods famous dinner rolls are baked fresh every morning and served with everything: the buffet, lunches, dinners, and their very popular soups. In fact, the restaurant’s most popular meal is homemade soup and dinner rolls.

Beverly Woods does a huge business around holidays, especially Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.  For many residents of Beverly/Morgan Park, it wouldn’t be a family gathering without Beverly Woods dinner rolls. They sell literally thousands of dozens of the rolls, with people lining up out the door to pick up their orders.

McGann recalled one particular customer who picked up his order and left, then a short time later reappeared in line. McGann asked if he’d forgotten something. The customer replied that no, he hadn’t, but he had encountered another man outside who didn’t want to wait in line. So he sold his rolls for a five dollar profit and was returning to get more. Stunned, McGann said, “You’re scalping dinner rolls?”

“Yes,” replied the customer.

You won’t have to pay a scalper to enjoy the fresh, delicious rolls at Beverly Woods. Stop in Mon. through Sat. for lunch and dinner buffet starting at 11 a.m., and on Sun., breakfast buffet, 9 a.m. to noon, followed by dinner buffet. Beverly Woods banquet rooms are available for parties of all sizes. Learn more at Beverly Woods at 773-233-7700 or http://www.beverlywoodsbanquet.com/