Klaus Ditchler, a Frankfort resident who built a reputation for traditional German cuisine throughout the south suburbs with his restaurant , died Saturday, Aug. 18. He was 77.
Visitation for Ditchler will be from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, at in Frankfort. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at the funeral home, and Ditchler will be laid to rest at .
"He was a friend not just to me … but he was a friend to all of Frankfort and one of those persons who has done so much for our community an had an enormous impact on our community," said Mayor Jim Holland during Monday's Frankfort Village Board meeting. "His restaurant was literally known all over the upper Midwest and helped put Frankfort really on the map. And we will miss Chef Klaus, an interesting character, a very interesting person to talk to."
Ditchler had been in the restaurant business in Frankfort since the 1960s, and his name became synonymous with authentic German food thanks to his restaurant, which had several Frankfort locations over the years. He opened the current Bier Stube in Frankfort Towne Center after the previous location downtown was destroyed by fire in 2001. Ditchler's son, Michael, owns Chef Klaus' Country Cooking in Mokena.
"He was a fixture in this community, and in many regards, he was this community," said Trustee Todd Morgan during Monday's board meeting.
Holland said he talked to Ditchler last Monday, and the chef told him about his plans for the fall to bring in German musicians to the Bier Stube.
"Right up to the end he was a true host, a true restaurateur a true entertainer," Holland said. "Somebody who was thinking of his customers and how he could make his restaurant better."
Other village trustees offered their sympathy for Ditchler's family and recognized his contribution to Frankfort. Here's what they had to say:
Trustee Mike Stevens: "He'll surely be missed in our community. … [His restaurant] was a great place, and our hope is that it will continue to be so in the future."
Trustee Dick Trevarthan: "First dinner I had [at his restaurant in the 1960s or '70s], he walked up, put a bottle of wine on the table and says, 'You live here, sir. This is for you.' That's the way he was all the time to me. A great friend to me, too."
Trustee Cindy Heath: "Every week somebody stops by [the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce] and wants to know where the German restaurant is. And it was the mark, the identifier for Frankfort long before the village starting doing its development."
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