Joseph Zucchero, Founder of Chicago Restaurant Made Famous by ‘The Bear,’ Dies at 69

The 44-year-old beef sandwich shop “Mr Beef” inspired FX’s hit show, which was also filmed there

Joseph Zucchero
Instagram (@mr.beefchicago)

Joseph Zucchero, the founder of the beef sandwich shop that inspired FX’s popular drama series “The Bear,” has died at age 69, according to his son, Christopher Zucchoro. 

Zucchero was the founder of one of Chicago’s most famous staples, “Mr Beef.” The restaurant was founded in 1979, with its menu serving up Italian beef, Italian sausage, hamburgers and more. His son shared with followers in an Instagram post that his father died just two weeks after celebrating his birthday in February. 

“A part of me, my family, and Mr. Beef died today. I was incredibly lucky to be this man’s son. I know this,” said Chris, who co-owns the restaurant with his father. Zucchero unexpectedly died on March 1 at Rush Medical Center while undergoing cancer treatment.

“Most don’t even get to know their dads,” Zucchero continued. “I lived every waking moment of my life with him in some kind of capacity. If there truly is a Heaven, I hope you’re there Dad. And I hope I get to see you again. Joesph Zachary Zucchero February 21st 1954-March 1st 2023.”

“Mr. Beef” is nestled on Orleans street in Chicago, Zucchero’s hometown. He was born and raised on the city’s Northwest Side before moving to Park Ridge in the late ‘70s. Elevating from a citywide favorite to a national must-visit eatery, “Mr. Beef” inspired what is now one of FX’s most popular shows, “The Bear,” much of which was filmed on-location at the restaurant. 

The drama series, which stars Jeremy Allen White, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, Ayo Edebiri, Abby Elliott, Lionel Boyce and Liza Colón-Zayas, was picked up for a second season in July 2022. 

In the beginning of his career, Zucchero worked as a butcher at Dominick’s Finer Foods before opening his beef stand. He is survived by his wife, his two children and three dogs.