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April 6th, 2011

The Airplane Restaurant

When I was a kid one of the things I enjoyed most was tagging along with my mom, dad, or grandma to go shopping. Not grocery shopping – that was boring! – but shopping at the mall. There are a few things about our local mall that I still remember clearly, like Wags restaurants and seeing E.T.: The Video Game at Musicland.

One of the things I remember less clearly was the airplane restaurant.

So here’s what I still have in my head. There was a storefront at the North Riverside Park Mall in North Riverside, Illinois, that looked like the side of an airplane’s fuselage. There were horizontal stripes (orange? blue? sure) and tiny windows, just like the real thing. I think the place was actually just called “Airplane.” And while I really, really wanted to go in and eat there… we never did.

I remember being sad when the restaurant was closed and replaced with a two-level (!) McDonald’s. And that was that. I haven’t found any real information on the restaurant other than a couple of passing references on a forum complaining about the changing demographics of the area (“OMG NEW ETHNIC GROUP WE DISLIKE!”) It was nice to know that it wasn’t something I made up but… I want more validation.

And I really would like to go to the Airplane restaurant, so long as they don’t serve airplane food.

Posted in Childhood Memories, Food and Beverage

Paul April 6, 2011, 6:48 am

For reference, too, one of the few mentions of the Airplane Restaurant is apparently in this February 1981 article from the Chicago Tribune. But I’m not thinking I’ll pay four bucks to see it. Because that’s how I roll.

paul June 17, 2011, 7:59 pm

I ate there many times as a kid. It was really cool and was shaped like a plane with fake plane windows. I liked the fried shrimp.

paul June 17, 2011, 8:11 pm

nd they had pictures of Chicago in the windows which I do not recall

paul June 17, 2011, 8:11 pm

It said the kids meals were 1.89

vince August 30, 2011, 10:32 pm

the inside was divided into booths along the walls and a center row of tables. The lighting was very dim. The booths had airline shaped windows with realistic scenery of the Chicago skyline as if you were flying over. And if i’m not mistaken, the actual lighting of the windows would change from a daytime bright shot to a dark night shot with the city lights.

Paul September 7, 2011, 2:15 pm

Gotta say, this place sounds pretty awesome. Thanks not-me Paul and Vince for sharing!

Juba Kalamka April 7, 2014, 1:57 am

Don’t know if you will see this because this post is so old but I was just talking to my son about my dad taking me there @North Riversiide in 1981 I think. I hella dug it…don’t remember the food being very good though. 🙂

Stanley September 28, 2014, 10:24 am

Yes, there was a restaurant on the north side of Chicago. I believe it was a DC-7. It was on Cicero Ave and I don’t remember the cross street. It was a full airplane, had the wings attached. It was a really neat place, had a good hamburger. My family found it by accident while driving thru the neighborhood. A couple weeks later we went back there and had lunch. It was nice inside, you would sit in a booth and look out the airplane’s small window. I’ve always had a special love for airplanes and really enjoyed it.

Susan January 1, 2018, 11:35 pm

I have never forgotten about this restaurant and I was very young when it was around…we used to beg to go eat there when at that mall…it’s a very strong childhood memory for me☺

Ginger Passarelli March 5, 2020, 2:47 pm

I remember the Airplane Restaurant. We loved it when we were young. I have to agree with another person, I don’t think the food was very good. Who cared about food back in those days. It was so cute!

Gabriella February 28, 2021, 8:50 pm

Yes… I remember this restaurant with love. When I was a little girl, we went there whenever we were at the mall. In fact, I remember my Mom teaching me how to cut my meat and I actually “flew solo” on my roast beef!
It had dime lights and yes, the windows were shaped like a real airplane and it was just like looking out while flying over the city.
That Mall also had a tiny candy store that had an old fashioned piano that “played by itself” key strokes and everything! It actually played the melody from “The Sting”

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