LAKE BLUFF – Many restaurants add items to their menus to reinvent themselves. The Silo restaurant in Lake Bluff adds its own twist to change.
While diversifying over the past 48 years, The Silo has not lost sight of the deep-dish pan pizza that thrust it into popularity along the North Shore in 1968. The restaurant has added specialty pies to its menu as well as other choices.
“We’ll always be adding new and different pizzas to the menu,” said Dave Tarman, the latest link in a family chain that has owned the eatery since 1988. “We build off the old ideas.”
When Gene Bergmark and Carl Skogland started building the restaurant in 1967, they introduced deep-dish pizza to the North Shore, according to Tarman. Bergmark and his wife, Carol Bergmark, operated the business until 1988.
Tarman said his parents, Pat Tarman and Larry Tarman, partnered with his sister, Sandy Tarman Pike, and her husband, Larry Pike, to buy the restaurant from Bergmark in 1988. Then changes started to happen.
“My sister is very creative,” Dave Tarman said. “She really changed the original pan pizzas and they caught on. “She added the Reuben pizza, Buffalo chicken and roasted eggplant. We had four cheese macaroni and bacon a long time ago before it was popular.”
The senior Tarmans and Pikes made other changes too. The first thing they did was close the restaurant and renovate.
“It was very cave like, very dark,” Dave Tarman said. “That’s the way places were in the ’60s and ’70s. They opened things up, put in the windows and French doors.”
The new owners added selections to the menu as well like sidewalk fries, which Dave Tarman said became a popular appetizer.
“It’s baked potato pieces, which are deep fried and covered with Parmesan or cheddar and bacon,” Dave Tarman said. “It’s the most popular appetizer we have.”
Foldovers were added as well, bringing a variation on the pizza theme.
“It’s the Silo’s answer to the pita sandwich,” Dave Tarman said. “It’s pizza dough pita. We serve it with Buffalo chicken and barbeque chicken.”
Growing up in his parents’ restaurant business, Dave Tarman said he learned how to make pizza when he was 10 but it was not his career path. After graduating from the University of Kansas where he met his wife, Leslie Tarman, they both joined the corporate world, eventually landing in Dallas.
While living in Dallas, Dave Tarman and his family got special Christmas presents from his sister. She would send frozen pizzas—her creative specialty brand.
“Sending frozen was unusual then,” Dave Tarman said. “You had to watch for it from the door. I’d like pepperoni but she sent the specialty pizzas and I learned to like them.”
After 25 years of working for other people in the corporate world, Dave and Leslie Tarman decided to buy a business. They started looking in Dallas. One day Sandy Pike told her brother she and her husband were retiring and selling the business. It did not take long for Dave and Leslie Tarman to buy it. That was in July 2015.
After a year of getting their feet on the ground, Dave Tarman kept one tradition going. He said he added a specialty pizza, the Kansan. It has a barbeque theme.
“It has thinly sliced roast beef, grilled roasted onions, grilled roasted peppers and the sauce is a sweet Kansas City barbeque sauce,” said Dave Tarman. “We named it that because we’re Jayhawks,” he added referring to the University of Kansas mascot.
Some things drop off the menu and others are added. When longtime customers arrive and ask for something unusual it may surprise Dave Tarman but not the kitchen staff.
“I’ve never heard of it but our cooks have been here so long they say ‘no problem’ and they make it,” Dave Tarman said.
Approximately half the people who order pizza — there are thin crust as well as deep dish — pick one off the menu and the others build their own from dozens of ingredients available.
“They might order one with artichoke hearts, spinach soufflé and fresh sliced tomatoes,” Dave Tarman said.
Dave Tarman said there could be some other surprises on the menu in the next few months. He said it could be lunch burgers.
Six years ago a new tradition started when The Silo put in model trains running on tracks both on the main level and on the loft upstairs. Dave Tarman said sitting by the trains is as popular with adults as it is with children.
Another long-term tradition is the Sunday evening magic show with Boz the Magician, he said.
“He’s been entertaining her for 25 years,” Dave Tarman said. “He does balloons for the kids but he does tricks before your eyes you can’t believe. He stops at the tables.”
LAKE BLUFF —