By: Barb Evans
For an authentic Chicago-style food experience in the Valley, there’s nothing like Joey’s of Chicago.
Walk-in the door at any of their three locations, and you’ll be immediately transported back to the streets of the windy city. Lining the walls is a veritable shrine to Chi-town, complete with a larger-than-life mural of the skyline, iconic memorabilia, and downtown street signs. For any displaced Chicagoan, it’s like a homecoming.
And owners Joe and Tammie Ragan like it that way.
The Ragans, native Chicagoans who moved to Arizona in 2003, opened the first Joey’s in Cave Creek in 2007.
“We love Chicago style food and could not find a good place that served authentic hot dogs or Italian beef in the North Valley,” says Joe. “So after thinking about it for a couple of years, we finally decided to go for it.”
They went for it, all right, by offering Vienna Beef hot dogs smothered with all the Chicago-style fixings: green relish, ripe tomatoes, mustard, onions, kosher pickles, and sport peppers all piled onto a steamed poppy seed bun and finished with a dash of celery salt. Their specialty, an Italian Beef sandwich, pays homage just as well, with thinly sliced seasoned beef that’s heated in its own gravy and served on baked French bread. The sandwich can be served dipped, wet, or dry.
But the menu doesn’t stop there. Also available are other items like chili-dogs, Polish sausage, char-broiled burgers, chicken sandwiches, fish and chips, subs, salads, soups, cookies, brownies, cannoli and shakes. Kids can even select from their own menu, and the prices are very reasonable for families.
“With food prices constantly on the rise, we try our very hardest to keep our prices down for our customers by working with various vendors,” says Joe.
Joey’s is definitely a family-friendly place with a casual atmosphere and personable staff. Joe runs the restaurant full-time, and Tammie helps out in between her full-time job in human resources. When they’re not at the restaurant, they’re juggling their three small children, but oftentimes, their two worlds will intermingle.
“You can frequently find our 8-year-old, Joey, behind the register and taking orders,” laughs Tammie.
During the first two years, Joey’s developed such a loyal following that the Ragans decided to open a second location in Happy Valley in 2009. Their popularity continued to grow, so they added a third location in Surprise last year. Additional locations are not out of the question.
“We would like to expand south to Tempe, or more north into Flagstaff, Prescott or Sedona,” explains Joe.
The Ragans admit that owning a restaurant is more work than they originally thought, but they have no plans to slow down anytime soon.
“Some days we wonder if we should continue,” laughs Tammie, “but then a customer walks in and thanks us so genuinely for serving food like they remember from back home. It serves as a great reminder of why we opened Joey’s in the first place.”
You can have your own authentic Chicago experience at one of three Joey’s of Chicago locations: 4705 E. Carefree Highway in Cave Creek, 1985 W. Happy Valley Road in North Phoenix, or at their newest location, 13761 N. Litchfield Rd. in Surprise. For more information, visit joeysofchicago.com and follow them on Facebook.
Barb Evans is a freelance writer handling assignments for a variety of clients while raising two kids, ages 13 and 8. She has worked in public relations for more than 10 years and was previously a writer for Freedom Way magazine, Anthem’s community publication. Barb loves to travel, spend time at the beach, and discover people’s life stories.