#AlwaysAndersonville: The Podcast – Show Notes from Episode 39 with Scott Martin of Simon’s & SVEA

This week, Laura and Joelle are joined by Scott Martin owner of SVEA Restaurant at 5236 N. Clark and Simon’s Tavern at 5210 N. Clark. Since the Depression, Simon’s has anchored Clark Street just north of Foster and Scott has been an anchor of this community. His love for this neighborhood is effusive. You can see Scott walking his dog, greeting patrons at the restaurant and bar, waving hello off the rooftop connected to his apartment above Tilly’s or dressed up as a Viking multiple times a year, most famously during Midsommarfest.    

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Scott Martin (right) in Transistor’s Studio C with podcast sound engineer Andy Miles.

“I’m lucky…I hope I never leave this neighborhood.”
– Scott Martin

Listen to Episode 39 with Scott!

Here are some references from Episode 39 that you may want to check out:

  • Scott kicks us off during this episode throwing it back to his memories of skating at Rainbo Ice Arena on Clark Street and growing up in his mother’s house. His mother was a secretary at Ebenezer Lutheran Church. His favorite memory is riding the WGN float at nine-years old with Ray Rayner and Chauncey the Duck!
  • SVEA means “Mother of Sweden.” The prior owner was Andersonville’s Kurt Mathiasson. Learn more about Kurt here. The restaurant has been called SVEA since the 1920s!
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Scott inside of SVEA as shot for the 2018-19 Neighborhood Guide.

  • Scott’s favorite menu item at SVEA is the pickled herring, but he also mentions Lutefisk as a choice during the holidays. While not a super popular fish, Lutefisk was soaked in water to preserve the fish in Viking days. He also details the lineup for The Viking Breakfast which includes Swedish sausage, eggs, potatoes, toast, and Swedish Pancakes, and mentions SVEA’s delicious cheeseburger, a Swedish Meatball pressed between the bun. 

“Our cheeseburgers rule!”
– Scott Martin

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The speakeasy door in the basement of Simon’s Tavern.

  • Simon’s was opened by Simon Lundberg in 1934. It’s the 4th oldest bar in Chicago and served as another meeting point for many of the parishioners of Ebenezer Lutheran. The basement of Simon’s is an old speakeasy! Scott talks about the door with the peephole in the basement. Check out a recent write-up on Simon’s in Umgås Magazine.
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The wooden bar at Simon’s was built to look like that of a luxury ship’s.

  • The wood bar in Simon’s was designed to look like the bar of a luxury ship, as many patrons of Simon’s in the early days would never have been able to afford a trip on the boat.
  • Simon Lundburg also built a bank window (which you can still see today!) in Simon’s Tavern. Many people weren’t trusting of the banks post-recession, and Simon offered workers no fee when cashing their check, plus a free sandwich!

“I understood the privilege of owning the bar because it’s a really cool place, but the responsibility of owning this place has kept me sane.”
– Scott Martin

  • Most of the time when you visit Simon’s, you’ll notice that Scott likes to play Turner Classic Movies on the TVs. Anything else is just bad art.
  • The Swedish Glögg is a popular favorite, both hot and cold, at Simon’s! What’s in Glögg? Scott gives us a rundown on his ingredients, but he also talks about the tradition of wishing on the Pepparkakor cookie. Learn about the origins of Glögg here.
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Tom and Scott Martin.

  • Scott and his father, Tom Martin, were recently honored for their contributions to the community at this year’s Swedish American Museum gala.
  • Many of the places that Scott wishes he could change places with for a day in Andersonville include the old delis Erikson’s and Wikstrom’s, and of course the old Swedish-owned bakeries. But in current day, he’d like to switch with Transistor (5224 N. Clark) and Calo Ristorante (5343 N. Clark).
  • In reminiscing about old Andersonville businesses Scott mentions that where Little Bad Wolf (1541 W. Bryn Mawr) is now, used to be an archery bar! The Calo Theatre, where Brown Elephant (5404 N. Clark) is now, used to be a bowling alley. Scott also mentions the Sip & Straw as the go-to ice cream place, so he’s glad George’s Ice Cream & Sweets (5306 N. Clark) is here now at least!
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Scott dressed in his Viking attire during the 2017 install of the replica Water Tower.

“I’ve had nothing but a blast.”
– Scott Martin

Visit Simon’s Tavern and SVEA Restaurant on the following platforms:
Facebook: SVEA | Simon’s Tavern