September 9, 1903
Wills Point, Texas
|Died||August 20, 1990
|Occupation||NCAA college athlete, businessman, restaurateur, philanthropist|
|Years active||1943–1990 (as owner of Pizzeria Uno, Pizzeria Due and Su Casa restaurants)|
|Spouse(s)||Florence Davis, (?-1990, his death)|
|Website||Pizzeria Uno website|
Issac "Ike" Sewell (September 9, 1903 – August 20, 1990) was an American athlete, businessman, entrepreneur, and founder of the Uno Chicago Grill restaurant chain that originated in Chicago, Illinois, as well as founder of the Pizzeria Uno and Pizzeria Due restaurants there in 1943 and 1955, respectively. Sewell started as an All-Southwestern Conference guard as a player on the Texas Longhorn football teams from 1926 to 1929.
Early life and career
Sewell was born in Wills Point, Texas, 50 miles east of Dallas, and grew up in San Antonio. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Sewell achieved both All-Southwestern Conference (SWC) and All-American honors as a guard on the Longhorns football squad. Was a member of Sigma Chi fraternity.
After college, Sewell worked for several years with American Airlines. But with the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, Sewell joined Standard Brands in Chicago as a salesman, kicking off a career with the company that led to a vice presidential suite before he retired in 1965.
Pizzeria Uno and Su Casa restaurants
In 1943 Sewell opened Pizzeria Uno restaurant at the corner of Ohio Street and Wabash Avenue in Chicago, offering a style of pizza that was previously unheard of: the Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. Sewell had begun dabbling in the restaurant business as a sideline with new-found friend Ric Riccardo, the founder and owner of Riccardo's, a restaurant still popular in the area. The two would eventually expand and open up another restaurant, Pizzeria Due, just a block away from Pizzeria Uno, in 1955. Sewell would also open up the Chicago area's first upscale Tex-Mex restaurant, Su Casa, in 1963.
Just 20 days away from his 87th birthday, Sewell died in Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago on August 20, 1990 after suffering from a lengthy bout with leukemia for several years. He was survived by his wife Florence Davis as well as his children and several grandchildren.
- Uno opens, Chicago Sun-Times archived article, 12-3-1943, accessed 9-20-2010, from chicagotribune.com.
- Sewell's famous deep-Dish pizza recipe at midwestliving.com
- http://unos.com/achievements.php Awards and Accolades page at unos.com
- ep-dish-pi_n_167754.html Who Invented Deep-Dish Pizza? Historian Seeks The Answer, Huffington post article, 2-17-2009, accessed 9-20-2010.
- Ike Sewell, 87; Developed Thick-Crust Pizza, Dubbed It Chicago-Style, (obituary), LA Times, 8-27-1990, accessed 9-20-2010.