Ron Cohn (Remembering Frank & Marie's)

Frank and Marie’s – second course

By Ron Cohn

The story of this European couple’s unforgettable namesake restaurant at 5320 N. Sheridan began a mile north, in the Sovereign Hotel at Granville and Kenmore. In the ’50s, the hotel had a number of permanent guests who were drawn to its upscale atmosphere and impressive amenites, which included a full-size indoor pool, a lakeview roof garden and a “sleeper” fine-dining restaurant, The Stuart Room.

Near the decade’s end, my father recommended it to me – while I was living on the Near North Side and in my first job at the Sun-Times – as an inexpensive “big date” destination. He had me meet him at the restaurant’s comfortable bar for a drink and an introduction to the interesting, late-30s couple who ran it. He told me to be ready for a dining experience far superior to anything in my limited experience, but to do it soon, as “these people are going places.”

He was right on both counts. Frank and Marie were ensconced in their palatial Sheridan Road digs by 1961 or ’62. Despite its inconvenient location for me, by then a downtown adman and Deerfield family guy, their establishment was one of my favorite entertaining venues in the mid-’60s. I hosted a regional meeting for my new client, KFC, in 1965 and took company president John Y. Brown Jr. (later to become governor of Kentucky and the owner of the Boston Celtics) to a small dinner event there. Smitten by the food, the service and the charming host and hostess, he used their phone to call his wife in Louisville and had her fly to Chicago the next day to join my wife and me for an unscheduled encore “to have the best meal she ever had in her life.”

Sadly, the handwriting was on the wall for the neighboring Edgewater Beach Hotel, which closed two years later, eventually taking Frank and Marie’s down with it like the suction created by the sinking of a great ship.

Originally published in the Malibu East Dialogue.