Burt’s Place (8541 Ferris Ave., 847-965-7997), the iconic Morton Grove pan pizza joint from the late Burt Katz, will reopen under new ownership in September.
The legendary spot had been closed since July 2015, when Katz started having health issues. He died April 30 this year, at age 78.
New Burt’s partners Jerry Petrow and John Munao assumed ownership in June. Both had been futures traders, Petrow for 25 years and Munao for 20, until the pits closed in February 2015.
“We had talked a lot about doing something because the pits were closing—a hot dog stand, a BBQ place,” says Munao. “My dream was always to open a restaurant and [Petrow] had gone to culinary school.”
Fate took a hand when Petrow read the news that Burt’s Place had closed and slipped a note in the Burt’s Place mail slot. Katz called him in October, and the trio reached a purchasing agreement in December 2015.
The duo then spent Katz’s last months working alongside him, mastering the house-made dough and sauce that formed the basis of his famous pies.
“Jerry met with [Katz] many, many times in the rehabilitation facility, and we met with him at his home right up until his final days at his request,” Munao says. “He basically gave us the final bits of information in those last few days.”
Katz founded Burt’s Place in 1989 with his wife, Sharon. He also started famed pan pizza chain Pequod’s in 1970.
The new Burt’s menu will essentially stay the same. In addition to Katz’s trademark yet polarizing sausage pizza style with sausage “pucks,” Petrow and Munao are adding a less—er—controversial version with sausage crumbles. The 50-seat interior will be updated, and a side patio will open (hopefully) next summer.
“During one of our final meetings with Burt, I asked him if he had any recipes written down,” Munao says. “He pointed to his head and said, ‘No, it’s all up here.’”
With the Katz family’s blessing, Munao and Petrow hope to carry on the magic of the new Burt’s, though it might take them awhile to commit his pizzas to memory.