They reason we care

German immigrants settled in the area in the 1840’s, so there is a strong German heritage in the town. So, of course, there has to be a German restaurant in the area and on a visit earlier this year to see a dealer in downtown Frankfort, I passed by a large sign on S. LaGrange Road that read Chef Klaus’ Bier Stube. I was hungry and after I called on the dealer in Frankfort, I made my way back to Chef Klaus’ and try their German food.

ChefklausYou’d think a guy by the name of Klaus Ditschler would be born and raised in Germany, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, Klaus Ditschler was born in the United States and the first time that he went to Germany was when he was stationed there with the U.S. Army in the late 50’s. After getting out of the Army, he ended up back in Frankfort opening the first of what turned out to be a handful of German restaurants in the area.

The original Chef Klaus’ Bier Stube was located in the historic downtown area of Frankfort, it’s huge beer garden a huge draw in the warmer months. Tragedy hit in 2001 when a devastating fire took out the building in which Chef Klaus’ was housed. He had just opened a second restaurant in nearby Peotone, IL, but he wanted to reopen a restaurant in Frankfort. He was able to find a large space in the Frankfort Town Center on the north side of the town. Klaus Ditschler also opened Chef Klaus’ Country Kitchen in the town of Mokena, north and west of Frankfort with his son, Michael, in charge of that location. There was also a Chef Klaus’ steakhouse that was open for awhile in Frankfort.

Unfortunately, Klaus Ditschler passed away in 2012 at the age of 77 leaving his restaurants to Michael and his other son, Karl. Nothing changed in the Chef Klaus’ Bier Stube kitchen as head chef Ernesto Luciano continued with the restaurant. He had worked side by side with Klaus Ditschler for over 35 years – Ernesto’s brother, Savano, also worked for Ditschler for over 30 years. After the death of their father, the Ditschler’s eventually closed the Peotone location in April of 2013 focusing on the Mokena and Frankfort Chef Klaus’ restaurants.

You can’t miss the sign along S. LaGrange Road touting Chef Klaus’ Bier Stube. It’s located on the east side of the strip mall that includes a couple of other restaurants and a grocery store located just north of U.S. Highway 30. (see map) There was plenty of parking in front of the restaurant.

From the front, it didn’t look much like a German restaurant. It had a faux wooden front with a white picket fence in front of the building. But going inside, it looked like a German restaurant. An overly kitschy German restaurant filled with carved wooden clocks and artifacts, beer steins, and painted plates. On Friday and Saturday evenings, Chef Klaus’ hosts a duo playing German polka music.