Fanny Lazzar was a popular restaurateur in Evanston. She and her husband Ray Lazzar opened their restaurant at 1601 Simpson Street in 1946 and lived in the upstairs apartment. Fanny’s Restaurant became quite popular with local residents and visiting notables, including such visitors as President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Eleanor Roosevelt. It closed in 1987. Besides being a restaurant owner and chef, Lazzar was also the author of a weekly newspaper advice column in the Evanston Review and wrote Fanny’s Way of Life in 1967.
Fanny Bachechi Lazzar, born in Evanston to parents who had immigrated from Italy, had learned the food business at an early age. Her parents ran a confectionery at 821 Davis before opening a lunch counter at 1601 Simpson Street, the future site of Fanny’s Restaurant. As her business flourished, Fanny expanded her restaurant to offer a seating capacity of 275. She always served everything “fresh, fresh, fresh” and she decried any restaurant that put profits in front of serving “perfect food . . . of the highest quality.” In 1948, Kraft Foods offered her $75,000 for her famous salad dressing recipe (she declined and marketed it herself, selling it at locations including Marshall Fields). Several of her recipes are still being distributed, including the salad dressing and her famous pasta sauce.She also turned down a lucrative deal to turn her restaurant into a chain. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the 1955 International Epicurean Award (recognizing Fanny’s Restaurant as one of the “seven most famous restaurants in America”). The restaurant closed its doors in 1987. Fanny passed away in 1991.