Ed and Joe's Serves up a Slice of Tinley History

The staple hotspot has been a part of the Tinley Park community for 50 years.

For 50 years, has been serving up slices in using the same recipe it did when it first opened. 

That golden recipe was dreamed up by founder and former owner, Ed Clark, who discovered it while working part-time at Joe and Dick’s Pizza Ranch in the 1950’s. Today, the sign in the carry-out area says it all. 

“We don’t have any fast food and the cooks aren’t too swift either.”

“We call it slow food because nothing is pre-made,” said Ellen Clark, half of the husband-and-wife duo that now runs the show at Ed and Joe's. “Very little that we make here comes out of a can or bag.”

The sauce and dough are both made by hand and all of the veggies are freshly cut at the restaurant. They even chop the lettuce they use for salads, she said. The pizza is so popular that former Tinley residents have it shipped to them whenever they need a reminder of home.

“When people come back to visit, sometimes they’ll stop here for pizza before going to their relatives,” Ellen said.

The business has flourished in all aspects, from a carry-out and delivery hub to a dine-in restaurant. And its building and owners carry a lot of local history.

The Oak Park Avenue structure—it started as a hotel—has been home to a liquor store and several taverns before Ed Clark and his partner, Joe Pells, took it over, turning it into both a dine out and eat-at-home staple for the community.

Most Tinley residents intimately know its current owners, Ed's son, Michael Clark, and his wife, Ellen. Their level of visibility in the restaurant and community has earned them the label of being "hands-on" business managers.

Their 30-person staff counts on interacting with them on a daily basis, they said. The two are active in the , Mainstreet Business Commission, Tinley Park Chamber of Commerce and Oak Park Avenue Mainstreet Association.

Residents who have grown with the restaurant often comment on the transformation they've seen it make over the years, Ellen said.

It went from a carry-out to a dine-in restaurant and the bar at the restaurant's entrance used to be 30 feet long, stretching the entire length of what is now the dining area. The party room was once a separate store, the kitchen was expanded, a porch was added, windows were put in and an executive chef was hired. Photographs reminding customers of "Old Tinley" now line the walls.

The couple’s history is also a testament to the growth of Tinley Park. Ellen worked at what used to be an advertising agency next door and would go to Ed & Joe’s for lunch, she said. At the time, Michael would put fresh flowers on all of the tables and then sneak into the agency to leave big bouquets on Ellen's desk.

“He finally got the nerve to ask me out and we started dating,” Ellen said. 

They married after dating for two years and Ellen became a part of the family business.

Michael was the only one of his seven siblings interested in remaining in the pizza industry. Growing up, while other kid’s chores were taking out the garbage, the Clark's lent a hand in the kitchen.

Michael’s responsibilities changed when his father became short-staffed. At 11-years-old, he spent his weekends preparing food in the restaurant’s kitchen and he was paid $2 an hour for his work. His responsibilities grew with his age and he eventually earned his way to the top.

His father offered him the business when he graduated high school in 1976. He originally turned it down but two years later, he was ready. After meeting his father’s requirement of saving $5,000, he signed a contract at the stroke of midnight and relished in the lyrics “Meet the new boss, Same as the old," by The Who.

Those lyrics remain true today. Although the layout, décor and staff has changed, the pizza and the management strategy is the same.

Ed and Joe's is part of the family.

Russ July 04, 2011 at 10:28 PM
They also make a pretty good hamburger and beef sandwich .We ate there Saturday and it was very good


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