Friday, June 18, 2010


The name Edna is synonymous with soul food in Chicago. Everyone has their favorite menu items that they swear only Edna could serve. On Friday, June 11, Edna Stewart lost her 7-month battle with ovarian cancer, just six days after celebrating her 72nd birthday.
    Edna’s famous restaurant started in a bowling alley in 1966, located on Madison Street, east of its current home. She moved to the former MK Cleaners across the street from 10 South Kedzie. She even opened a pizza shop in Austin at Lake & Laramie.
    Her flaky biscuits and southern fried chicken gained fame, drawing people from all walks of life from across the city of Chicago. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a regular at Edna’s while he lived and worked on the West Side. Edna’s was the gathering place for politicians, preachers, and everyone needing a substantial soul food meal and wanting to discuss the latest news and gossip.
    After Edna’s father, Sam Mitchell, Sr., got her to take a booth at Taste of Chicago, people from across the country and around the world made Edna’s a required stop during visits to Chicago.
    Edna told THE VOICE, “I never wanted to be in the Taste of Chicago, but my father insisted. I said it was too much work and we had enough to do at the restaurant.” Sam told the newspaper he knew getting into the Taste would secure the restaurant’s reputation and position as the pre-eminent soul food restaurant on the West Side. Sam Mitchell was a great promoter.
    The current location of Edna’s Restaurant at 3175 West Madison Street made it the perfect place for political meetings, business lunches, and parties, as well as the first choice for a hearty breakfast to start the day.
    Edna was born in Chicago and learned to cook at her mother’s knee. She used some of her mother’s recipes in the restaurant.
    Governor Quinn declared February 19 to be Edna Stewart Day in Illinois.
    Edna leaves a son, Melvin Stewart, and daughter, Marguerite Banks; and sisters Alice McCommon and Judy I. Mitchell-Davis, a former circuit court judge; and a brother, Sam Mitchell, Jr. Viewings are being held Thursday and Friday, June 17 & 18, 6:00-9:00 PM, at A.A. Rayner & Sons Funeral Home, with visitation on Saturday, 9:00 AM, followed by funeral services at 10:00 AM, and burial.

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