The Sandwich That Started It All The history of Al’s #1 Italian Beef Restaurants dates back to 1938 when Al Ferrari and his sister and brother-in-law, Frances and Chris Pacelli, Sr., developed the original idea and recipe for the original Italian beef sandwich. The great Chicago sandwich was actually formed out of necessity during the Great Depression when meat was scarce. In order to make the most of what they had, Chris and Al would slice the meat very thin and place it on thick loaves of fresh made Italian bread. The original recipe, which is still used in all Al’s Beef locations today, was developed in Al’s home kitchen. The family sold the delicious sandwiches at a neighborhood food stand and delivered them to local businesses until they opened their current location on West Taylor Street in Chicago. It was at this storefront where they added other items to the menu, including Italian sausage, Chicago hot dogs, homemade hand-cut French fries and Polish sausages, to name a few. Taylor Street remains today as one of Chicago's truly iconic food destinations.
From Food Stand To Franchise What started as a neighborhood beef stand in Chicago’s “Little Italy” neighborhood. We've grown into a quintessential food icon and Chicago legend. In 1999, Dave Howey of Chicago Franchise Systems, Inc., owner and franchisor of the Nancy’s Pizza chain, purchased the rights to Al’s #1 Italian Beef Restaurants. A longtime customer himself since 1971, Mr. Howey saw the potential and expanded the local legend to other markets, opening the first franchise location in Tinley Park, IL in 2001. Howey has continued to expand the restaurant across the country from Las Vegas to southern California with many new locations on the horizon.
The City of Chicago presented Al's Beef on Taylor Street with an honorary street sign: