Frankie’s Deli has had a lot to celebrate lately.
The venerable Italian food emporium marked its 50th anniversary with a five-day culinary extravaganza in late November that culminated in a visit from Italian Senator Renato Turano.
“My family has been doing business with Turano Baking Co. for half a century and it was important for us to make them a part of our celebration,” says Frank Conforti Jr., son of company founders Frank Sr. and Connie. “We were truly honored that Senator Turano flew all the way in from Italy to join us!”
As icing on the birthday cake, cbslocal.com, the website of CBS Chicago, recently tapped Frankie’s lasagna as one of the five best in the Chicago area.
“It takes us four to five hours to make a batch of this,” Frank Jr. told reporter Jacky Runice. “In order for us to make every pan the same, we have only one person make it. Nick has been with us for 18 years and my mom Connie still comes in every Friday just to make sure it’s up to her standards.”
Frank Sr. and Connie, who celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013, opened the original deli and Italian specialty store in 1964 at Belmont and Central in Chicago, moving the business to Yorktown Shopping Center in 1976.
As the popularity of their business grew, so did their need for space, prompting the move to their current location on the north end of the shopping center near Highland Avenue.
“We moved to this location because the other store was too small,” Frank Jr. says. “We have customers who were here the first day we opened who still come in.”
MARY: REMOVE THE RED IF YOU NEED TO
Frank Jr. runs the business today, and though Frank Sr. and Connie are “semi-retired,” they remain actively involved.
“It’s been hard work,” Frank Sr. says. “There are no shortcuts when you’re serving the public. The reason the people keep coming back is the good food and service we offer. Everything is made right here. We have homemade sausage, lasagna, beef.”
And that’s only the beginning. Frankie’s offers 100 different pastas, 25 brands of tomatoes and 20 different bottles of olive oil to choose from, along with bottled wine and a host of other imported and domestic specialty items.
The deli is stocked with premium meats and cheeses, as well as homemade mostaccoli, stuffed shells, eggplant and veal Parmigiana, cavatelli, ravioli, meatballs and manicotti. There are meat, marinara and red clam sauces as well as homemade soup and desserts.
And then there are the sandwiches, which attract the lunchtime crowd in droves.
“The lines are long, but we want to serve all of our customers and get them out the door fast,” says Frank Jr. Frankie’s Deli sells about 300 sandwiches daily. “If we didn’t, they wouldn’t be coming back.”
What keeps Frank Sr. and Connie coming back is the joy that their food brings to their countless customers.
“We get many compliments and letters from the people being pleased with our food,” she says. “We should put them all in a frame. It makes you feel good.”
4 Yorktown Shopping Center
Lombard, IL 60148