The Story of the Bortz Brothers in Chicago History
The Bortz Brothers, Joe & Mike Bortz are well remembered for their theme restaurants in Chicagoland called Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlors and Sally’s Stage. In the early seventies Joe, a biochemist and his brother Mike Bortz, a Chicagoland school teacher, started with their first Doctor Jazz 1609 W. Montrose Ave. (& Ashland Ave.) Chicago and their second Doctor Jazz location at 913 ½ Chicago Ave. Main St. (& Chicago Ave.), Evanston. These were the first themed restaurants even before the famous Rich Melman started his first themed restaurant in Evanston, “Fritz That’s It”.
The Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlor booths were from original ice cream parlors that had been boarded up in Chicago. Doctor Jazz was noted for the peanut butter shakes and silent movies every hour on the hour and the antique amusement games from Riverview Park like mutescopes, ‘diggers’, the world’s largest nickelodeon strike machines and even electric shock machines.
Doctor Jazz was also famous for its non-smoking policy and if you lit up a cigarette the smoke would eventually hit the smoke detectors setting off fans and sirens. Every customer would look to see who the culprit was that was smoking and of course the pressure from the patrons would cause the customer to immediately put out his cigarette. Doctor Jazz fame for discouraging smoking became so well known that in 1975 Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlor received the first award ever from the American Cancer Society given to a business for helping to fight cancer.
Most of the employees from Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlors were local kids from the area ranging in age from 13 through 21 years. Doctor Jazz became the weekend spot for the parents to bring their children but the ice cream parlor was also open until midnight on the weekends and became a very popular evening destination.
It was not uncommon for the Montrose location on a Friday or Saturday night with only 45 seats to serve 300 people in the evening. On a Sunday Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlor with a continuous line would do 300-400 people during the course of the day and the evening.
Long will be remembered such workers as manager Al Strong, assistant manager Paul Baret, manager Paul Peterlin and his good buddy Eric along with the other employees. Hopefully this website will have other former employees writing into the blog. We would love to hear from former employees and customers who have fond memories of their days at Doctor Jazz.
Doctor Jazz in Evanston was the second Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlor located on Chicago Ave & Main St., was much bigger and sat up to 95 people. It too was a popular nightspot for the north shore for the young set and the adults. In Evanston several of the competing Illinois congressman actually did promotional campaigns out of Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlors. If you were ever a customer and have any thoughts or comments please bring these up on the Doctor Jazz Ice Cream Parlor blog. If you have any pictures please send those in as we would be happy to post them.