By Kristin Boza
Everyone in Beverly/Morgan Park knows Fox’s Pub, 9956 S. Western Ave., makes a great pizza, and since being named to the Chicago Eater list of 20 Great Spots for Chicago Tavern-Style Thin Crust Pizza, the rest of the city has a chance to catch up.
Owned by brothers Tom Fox Jr. and Frank Fox, they’re the second generation to run the restaurant since their parents, Thomas and Therese, opened it 55 years ago. So, what’s the key to making consistently delicious pizza? The ingredients, says Tom.
“My father used to say, there’s a love and care put into the process,” Tom said. “The seasons often play a role in the pork or cheese that we use, but if you have your people trained well and knowing what they’re doing, it helps to keep the consistency of the pizza.” The pizza patrons enjoy at Fox’s today is the exact same recipe originally created by the Foxes decades ago.
Back when Fox’s opened its first location at 99th and Walden Pkwy., it had two bar stools and one table. “My parents used to trade pizzas for deli meat from an Italian lady who owned a deli on Western Avenue; she was located where Fox’s is now,” Tom said. “My siblings and I were very young at the time, and my father was an electrician and car salesman while trying to start the restaurant. The Italian lady decided to sell her place and wanted my father to buy it.”
Guess who the Italian lady was? None other than Mafalda Capone, the only sister of infamous gangster Al Capone. While Tom Fox Sr. didn’t think he could afford the restaurant at the time, “. . . she made him a deal he couldn’t refuse,” Tom said. Tom Sr. kept the place going as a deli while trying to get the pizza side of the business started. “Once he gave the restaurant an Irish theme and put in the bar — boom — that’s when it took off,” Tom said.
Tom says the secret to success in the tough restaurant business is rooted in community support. “We’re all born and raised in Beverly, and we have a great connection with the customers who’ve been coming here for generations,” he said. “It’s wonderful to see a kid on his mother’s lap, then 20 years later, that kid is in there with his child. That’s a great sense of accomplishment. We’re lucky to still be here and we really enjoy the community.”