Czech, please: Popular ethnic-American eatery keeps 'em coming in Elmhurst
As the fourth-generation owner of Mack's Golden Pheasant Restaurant in Elmhurst, Jessica Mack boasts that she runs the oldest continuously family-owned restaurant in DuPage County, serving up American and Czech classics. It also offers one of the few remaining "supper clubs" in the country.
“We’re a big throwback to how things used to be -- that’s our exception,” Mack told the DuPage Policy Journal.
Mack owns the restaurant with her mother, father and brother. Her great grandfather opened the place in 1948 with her great grandmother cooking the cultural delights.
“My great grandma used to cook for Austrian royalty, so she started to cook those meals at the restaurant when she came to the U.S.,” Mack said.
Golden Pheasant still uses the recipes from Jessica’s great grandmother. Everything is homemade, from the hand-patty hamburgers to the dressings made from scratch.
Inside the eatery is a dining room section that offers a homey feeling and a bar area for a night out with friends.
“This is a local community where everyone comes in and everyone knows each other,” Jessica said. “People come to socialize. Some guests come with their whole family, and we know everyone and they share the same history as us with the place.”
"Supper clubs" started in Wisconsin and were popular in the 1950s. Mack said she gets to carry on the tradition by selling a unique fusion of ethnic foods inspired by her great grandparents and their history.
One popular dish is the Austrian wiener schnitzel, cutlets of veal lightly breaded and sautéed and served with bread dumplings and sauerkraut.
Mack said the most-popular dish is probably the prime rib, which is served only on weekends.
“It’s phenomenal,” she said. “I will always eat that at our place because it’s that good; nothing else compares.”
Diners will get a chance to try a few more favorites at the end of September and into October, like the jagerschnitzel and smoked Kessler rib. Accompanying drinks include the Barenjager Honey Liqueur and Edel Kirsch Cherry Liqueur.
Another Golden Pheasant specialty is the hand-cut broiled steak served with a double baked potato, and guests can even choose a gluten-free base for their steaks.
“We just started doing that in the past couple years because people have been requesting (gluten-free options),” Mack said. “We customize the menu for them.”
The bar on one side and the dining room on the other gives guests the best of both worlds. They can hang out with friends and enjoy great cocktails and drink specials or dig into a home-cooked meal with family.
Mack said the most-fulfilling part about being one of Golden Pheasant’s owners is “keeping the family tradition going.”