Charcoal Oven

Charcoal Oven Restaurant
4400 Golf Road
Skokie, IL 60076
847 675-8062

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Thursday: 5:00 - 9:00 PM
Friday & Saturday: 5:00 - 10:00 PM
We will be closed 9/21 for a private party


Longtime owner of Skokie restaurant

WWII veteran ran The Charcoal Oven for over 60 years

Phil Georgouses


On Christmas night, Phillip P. Georgouses' family visited him in the Wheeling residential center where he was recuperating from his latest bout with asthma. They brought champagne, told stories and laughed. Then Mr. Georgouses went to sleep. He never awoke.

It was a fitting final scene for Mr. Georgouses, 87, of Evanston, the charismatic, fun-loving, family-centered owner of the landmark Skokie restaurant The Charcoal Oven, which he ran for over 60 years.

"He went out with a party," his daughter Maria Franco said. Born June 5, 1923, in Evanston, Mr. Georgouses worked in his father's grocery store in Evanston as a youth. He attended Evanston Township High School, graduating in 1942, and enrolled at Northwestern University. Mr. Georgouses was drafted shortly thereafter and served as an infantryman in the Army.

His World War II experience took him to some of the most historic and harrowing places. On D-Day he was in the first wave at Omaha Beach, where more than 2,000 Americans were killed. In August 1944, Mr. Georgouses participated in the liberation of Paris from the Nazis. Franco said her father later fought in the Battle of the Bulge, a brutal siege in which an estimated 80,000 U.S. servicemen were killed, wounded or captured.

The playing of the national anthem would bring a tear to Mr. Georgouses' eye, but he remained traumatized by his wartime experiences, Franco said. "He had a lot of nightmares about the war," Franco said. "I think he was kind of surprised that to this day, there is so much fighting going on, that people don't know what war is really like."

In 1949, Mr. Georgouses received a $6,000 loan from his father to help buy the Little Club, in Skokie, a favorite hangout of his before the war. Mr. Georgouses changed the name to The Charcoal Oven in 1954, the year he married Patricia Gilliom. The couple settled in Evanston and raised four daughters, all of whom worked at times in the restaurant. He managed the place with a strong hand, but also was a charmer and never condescending to employees, Franco said. Mr. Georgouses retired in 2007.

"He loved life," said Franco, who has been running the restaurant with her husband, Rich, since mid-2007. "He wanted to do things for us while he was still living so he could see our expression and could get equal enjoyment."

Survivors also include Mr. Georgouses' wife, Patricia; daughters Tina Gaffney, Maria Franco, Elena and Barbara Georgouses; and four grandchildren.

© 2012 Charcoal Oven