My mom Shirley Klapperich became the owner of Little Chef Restaurant back in 1968. There weren’t many restaurants back then and we were the only place open all night on the weekends. When the bars closed on Friday and Saturday nights, everyone would come in and end the night with a great breakfast. Lots of stories there! One in particular I remember. It was the hippie era and three young guys with long hair, bandanas, and moccasins decided to dine and dash. Unfortunately for them, the chief of police was around the corner and brought them back in. When they asked my mom what she would like to do she said:

“Well, if they go down the street to the barber shop in the morning for a haircut, I will not press charges.”

So, she bought them breakfast and they paid for a haircut.

During the week we would open at 4:30 in the morning. The early morning guys like garbage men, truck drivers, city workers, and such would stroll in around four. One guy would make coffee, one would turn on the lights, another would fill creamers or run down to the Riverside Bakery for the rolls. They were all like family. To this day a lot of their kids come in with their families. Time marches on.

Growing up in a restaurant is a different kind of life. My mom had six children. I am the only girl. I have five younger brothers. We all pitched in. My oldest brother would cook while I waitressed. My middle brothers would buss or peel potatoes while the younger ones stood on upside down pots helping out with dishes.

My mom had the restaurant for forty-three years. A lot of hard work and a lot of great memories. I took over the restaurant seven years ago which makes this our 50th year. So hard to believe. We celebrated mom’s 80th birthday. She is still going strong and still full of life. Now she comes in the restaurant and can sit and relax with friends.

The restaurant is still going strong too. Mom was never much for change. Turns out it was a good thing because now we are still just a good old-fashioned diner. We are still small and cozy and we still have the original counter and stools. There are still the old pictures from my grandfather’s basement hanging on the walls. A lot of our soups and specials are still homemade using my mom’s recipes.

Of course, some things have changed over the years. We are still open seven days a week but only for breakfast and lunch. My five brothers are all successful in their trades. They still help out but now it’s with plumbing, electrical, and carpentry. My son also works at the restaurant on some weekends. My husband and I along with some great friends grill out for the band concerts and special events around town.

It’s a busy life! The restaurant is still doing really well. We are so lucky to have our family, friends, and our great employees. But the biggest reason we are still here after 50 years is because of our customers. Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful patronage!


Where can you find us?

Little Chef Restaurant
1332 N. Riverside Dr McHenry IL 60050
815 385 9752
Monday - Saturday 7:00am - 2:00pm
Sunday 7:00am - 1:00pm