Italian beef sales booming in Chicago, all thanks to 'The Bear'

A fictional streaming show is leading to a real hunger for a Chicago classic, the Italian beef sandwich.

At Mr. Beef in River North, they're feeling the rush of free advertising.

"It's cool to see people kind of almost making like a pilgrimage here because of the show," said Christopher Zucchero, who helps run Mr. Beef with his dad.

New customers are lining up with the regulars for the taste of Chicago.

"Today I got a beef, hot and juicy, and it was (chefs kiss)," said Patrick Tannous, who started eating at Mr. Beef before the show premiered.


Diners are craving an Italian beef sandwich after seeing it cooked up on the streaming show, "The Bear", about a struggling beef sandwich shop, which looks a heck of a lot like Mr. Beef. They did shoot the pilot here.

"They pretty much rebuilt a Mr. Beef at Cinespace, which was probably one of the most amazing things I've ever seen," said Zucchero.

It was Zucchero's longtime friend who brought about this latest brush with fame. He's the director of "The Bear."

"One day he just showed up with a bunch of people and he said I have this idea for this show. And it's this big thing and it's going to be a pilot and I need to be here, we need to do it. Are you ok with that? Yes, absolutely go ahead and give it a shot," said Zucchero.

Zucchero hasn’t watched the show, but from what he’s heard it nails the attitude of the Chicago restaurant., which Zucchero described as, "insane or just crazy? I guess we're all just kind of a little nuts."

As the show dishes on intense restaurant life, it's also serving as a sales pitch for what the Mr. Beef team considers the Chicago food.

"They think deep dish pizza, they think Portillo’s hot dog, or just a hotdog in general. But you know now I think people finally realize that our root food in Chicago is Italian beef," said Zucchero.

Italian beef sales are said to be up nationwide, but in the Mr. Beef view, only in select local spots can you taste the real deal.