The man with the long gray beard was standing quietly in the back at the Morton Grove village board meeting Monday, but he attracted attention nonetheless.
People greeted him as they came in, and Mayor Dan DiMaria gave him a shoutout from the dais, congratulating him on his improving health.
Burt Katz, the owner of Burt's Place, which has been featured on the cover of Saveur Magazine as well as by Anthony Bourdain on TravelChannel.com, WGN, the Chicago Tribune and others, is back--almost.
Earlier: Burt's Place Creates Pizza Harmony As Fame Spreads
"I've been sick for four months, and had a surgery on Oct. 10," Katz said. Indeed, local folks have noted the "closed for medical reasons" sign on his door.
"I’m going to open next month, sometime in November, a little on the slower side," the pizza chef said. "I go in there now periodically, to get mail, pay bills, business expenses.
"I was in the store for a half hour, those phones ring incessantly. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem to fill nine tables that seat 35 people."
As DiMaria and Morton Grove Trustee Bill Grear come over to talk, Katz tells them a Canadian production company did a story on Chicago's best pizza, including his shop, and gave him an eight-foot banner. He wants them to take a photo with him holding it up, and they say they're in.
Katz says he's supportive of DiMaria's vision to create a vibrant area of eateries and shops centering around Lincoln Avenue and the Morton Grove train station, in the area where Burt's Place sits at 8541 Ferris.
"I like competition," Katz said. "It makes us all better. And if people come around the area because they heard about a shrimp restaurant or something, that's a good thing."