History of Mr. A’s
The Amoroso family started their Italian beef business in Chicago back in the 1950s. "Rich and Bob's" aka "Richies" was a small, bright yellow building on north Cicero Ave. in Chicago, serving the nearby factories and neighborhoods. Specializing in homemade Italian beef sandwiches and Vienna hot dogs, it was a thriving business that until several years ago, was still owned by Bob Amoroso a.k.a "Mr. A".
Like many enterprising young men, Bob wasn't content to have just one small "joint" in the city so he began looking for another location in the suburbs, in the mid-1960s. His grammar school gym teacher had once suggested that Crystal Lake, Illinois would make a great location for another "beef stand" so he took a drive out and fell in love with the town.
In 1968, the first "Mr. A's" in Crystal Lake, was opened at the corner of Rt. 14 and Dole Avenue, just a few blocks from the lake, on the west end of town. It was a small place, with a counter across the front windows, where you could stand and eat your sandwiches. Crystal Lake was a pretty sleepy small town back then and the locals fell in love with "Mr. A's" and their delicious homemade Italian beef sandwiches.
It was a real family affair with Bob's parents joining the business along with his younger brother, Mick, when they opened in Crystal Lake. Gen (mom) a.k.a. "Mrs. A" became a fixture at the stand, working there daily, until her death several years ago. She was the giardiniera queen, making each batch of their homemade giardiniera by hand. Mick has recently taken over the daily operations of the business while Bob, semi-retired, still comes in several times a week to help out and chat it up with everyone. Bob says he won't ever fully retire from Mr. A's.
In the late 1970s, the original Mr. A's "beef stand" was replaced by the current building. They added indoor seating, expanded their menu and began selling their homemade Italian beef by the pound for parties. Today, the Italian beef sandwiches are still homemade with their secret family recipe. In fact, only a few select family members know the recipe. The spices are kept locked up and mixed together in the spice room, as each batch of Italian beef is cooked.
Even though Mr. A's has evolved over the years, the Italian beef sandwiches are still "stuffed with beef" and made with love by the Amoroso family.