Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket

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Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket
Dell Rhea Chicken Basket sign.jpg
Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket is located in Illinois
Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket
Location 645 Joliet Road
Willowbrook, DuPage County, Illinois, U.S.
Coordinates 41°44′51″N 87°56′22″W / 41.74750°N 87.93944°W / 41.74750; -87.93944Coordinates: 41°44′51″N 87°56′22″W / 41.74750°N 87.93944°W / 41.74750; -87.93944
Built 1946
Architect Eugene F. Stoyke
Architectural style No particular style
Governing body Private business
MPS Route 66 through Illinois MPS
NRHP Reference # 06000375
Added to NRHP May 5, 2006

Dell Rhea's Chicken Basket is a restaurant in Willowbrook, DuPage County, Illinois. It is located along historical U.S. Route 66, near present-day Interstate 55.


In 1938, two women entered Irv Kolarik's gas station along Route 66 and shared their recipe for fried chicken. The chicken was an instant success, and by the 1940s, a new building was needed to serve patrons.[1][2] Kolarik initially converted the station's automobile repair garages into dining rooms, but further demand prompted Kolarik to buy the adjacent property and build a full restaurant. Kolarik hired Eugene F. Stoyke to construct the one-story brick restaurant.[1]

The present-day Chicken Shack was opened next door from the gas station in 1946 in what was then Hinsdale, Illinois. Its proximity to Chicago fostered its continued success, and it became a bus stop on the Blue Bird Coach Lines.[1][2] During winters, Kolarik would flood the roof of the restaurant and hire local youths to skate on top of it. A lounge wing was added in 1956, and was the building's last major alteration.[1] The Interstate Highway System in the 1950s forced roads such as Route 66 to reroute, and the restaurant was eventually bypassed in the 1960s.[1][2]

Change of ownership[edit]

Dell Rhea, a prominent Chicago businessman who operated the Stevens Hotel and was the executive director of the Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, purchased the building in 1963. Dell Rhea's son Patrick assumed control of the restaurant following Dell's death in 1992.[1]

The building and its sign were added to the National Register of Historic Places on May 5, 2006, along with fellow Illinois Route 66 restaurants Lou Mitchell's and Ariston Cafe.[1] The restaurant was featured on a Route 66 edition of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.[3]


External links[edit]