Crowds overflowed Sharf's restaurant Monday night, hoping to keep the Schiller Park landmark open despite having fallen on hard times.
Second generation owner Jerry Scharf says business has fallen so much he might have to close a restaurant his family has run since 1967.
Monday night, the kitchen staff was pumping out the traditional sausage and sauerkraut. Scharf had a big smile on his face at the overflow crowd, saying he and his children were encouraged by the show of support for his struggling business. The organized fundraising event was dubbed "Scarf for Scharf's."
Scharf says the business has suffering from a changing neighborhood and all of the problems that come with running a small, heavily-regulated business. Scharf says neighborhood restaurants face tough times.
"It's gotten a lot more complicated through the years. Government is getting bigger in your pockets and the neighborhoods are changing. People are not feeling safe coming down here anymore, unfortunate because it's a beautiful neighborhood, still," Scharf said.
Tom Brinkworth was reminiscing about working at the Schiller Park pool decades ago when the whole staff would move across the park after closing to eat and drink in Scharf's, in what was once a German neighborhood.
"We always enjoyed this place. It's just a thing that's always been with me and I come out here and I want to support them and make sure that maybe, with my help, they can stay open," said Brinkworth.
Luke Mazur was there for family reasons to support the eatery.
"It's great good, a great time every time I've been there. I grew up coming here, so I think it's important to keep Scharf's open," said Mazur.
Scharf says the outlook is now looking good for staying open at least until fall's Oktoberfest.