Is The Bear based on a real restaurant?

Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear season 3
Ayo Edebiri and Jeremy Allen White are back for The Bear season 3. (Disney+)

It does a great job of replicating the intense stresses of operating a real-life working kitchen but is the eatery at the centre of The Bear based on a real restaurant?

Ever since it was first dished up in 2022, audiences have been addicted to the nail-biting drama of The Bear, Christopher Storer’s Disney+ drama about the non-stop everyday struggles of transforming a rundown Italian sandwich store into a beloved local cultural gem.

Read more: Everything we know about The Bear season 3

In the show’s first season, we watched former professional chef Carmy (Jeremy Allen White) almost lose his sanity transforming the store he inherited from his late brother into a place worthy of something more. Cut to season two and Carmy’s aspirations had grown, with his in-house team now focusing on creating a swanky fine dining destination.

With a third season looming, our nerves will soon be back up against the heat of Carmy’s kitchen — but what about the food spot that started it all? Is The Original Beef of Chicagoland based on a real restaurant? Let’s find out.

Jeremy Allen White as Carmy and Ebon Moss-Bachrach as Richie in The Bear season 3
The Disney+ series is set in a Chicago restaurant. (Disney+)

Chicago has a long history of Italian beef sandwiches. Historically, their origins lay in the discrimination Italian Americans were met with when trying to buy food supplies in the early 20th century.

These resulted in Italian families only being served lower-quality meats which were typically less tender. Undeterred by this prejudice, Italian families quickly figured out workarounds; cutting the tough meat into thin slices to help it last longer, cooking it for extended periods of time to tenderise it and pairing it with fresh bread to create something that quickly became a famous dish.

Over time, these Italian beef sandwiches become synonymous with the city following their birth in the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood.

Cut to 1979 and Mr Beef on Orleans opened, the store that’s widely believed to have inspired The Original Beef of Chicagotown restaurant featured in The Bear.

The exterior of Mr. Beef in Chicago
The exterior of Mr. Beef in Chicago. (Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) (Anthony Vazquez, Associated Press)

Founded by the late Joseph Zucchero, the eatery is now based in a trendy part of Chicago and run by Joseph’s son Chris. The Bear creator, Storer, is one of its regular punters.

After knowing each other for most of their lives, one day Storer told Chris: “I’m gonna write about Mr. Beef. I can guarantee you that,” with the latter thinking nothing of it.

Then, things got real: “I see this huge charter bus pull up. All these people come walking out looking like Hollywood suits people, and then I see Storer walking off the bus and he’s like, ‘Remember I told you I was gonna write about this place? Well, we’re going to do it. I got this pilot and it needs to be done here at Mr. Beef. Are you okay with that?’” Chris later told Variety.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, absolutely. Knock yourself out’.”

Photos of various famous guests and celebrities hang on the wall of Mr. Beef
Photos of various famous guests and celebrities hang on the wall of Mr. Beef in Chicago. (Anthony Vazquez/Chicago Sun-Times via AP) (Anthony Vazquez, Associated Press)

As a result, the majority of The Bear’s pilot episode was shot inside Mr Beef, with the back-of-house scenes doubled in a different kitchen space. After the show got a full season order, the production spent money meticulously replicating Chris’s venue on a soundstage.

According to reports, their dedication was intense, with every wall stain copied.

The front of Mr Beef and the general outside of the restaurant can also be glimpsed in the show’s second season. Chris even appeared briefly in the pilot episode but despite being so heavily linked to The Bear, he’s still not seen a single episode.

The Bear season 3 will be released on Thursday, 27 June on Disney+

This article originally appeared on Yahoo TV UK at