Frankfort Restaurateur Chef Klaus Dies

Klaus Ditchler, 77, was known as Chef Klaus to the customers who visited his Frankfort restaurant over the years. Ditchler's name became synonymous with traditional German food throughout the Southland.

Klaus Ditchler, a Frankfort resident who built a reputation for traditional German cuisine throughout the south suburbs with his restaurant , died Saturday, Aug. 18. He was 77.

Visitation for Ditchler will be from noon to 9 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, at in Frankfort. Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at the funeral home, and Ditchler will be laid to rest at .


"He was a friend not just to me … but he was a friend to all of Frankfort and one of those persons who has done so much for our community an had an enormous impact on our community," said Mayor Jim Holland during Monday's Frankfort Village Board meeting. "His restaurant was literally known all over the upper Midwest and helped put Frankfort really on the map. And we will miss Chef Klaus, an interesting character, a very interesting person to talk to."

Ditchler had been in the restaurant business in Frankfort since the 1960s, and his name became synonymous with authentic German food thanks to his restaurant, which had several Frankfort locations over the years. He opened the current Bier Stube in Frankfort Towne Center after the previous location downtown was destroyed by fire in 2001. Ditchler's son, Michael, owns Chef Klaus' Country Cooking in Mokena.

"He was a fixture in this community, and in many regards, he was this community," said Trustee Todd Morgan during Monday's board meeting.

Holland said he talked to Ditchler last Monday, and the chef told him about his plans for the fall to bring in German musicians to the Bier Stube.

"Right up to the end he was a true host, a true restaurateur a true entertainer," Holland said. "Somebody who was thinking of his customers and how he could make his restaurant better."

Other village trustees offered their sympathy for Ditchler's family and recognized his contribution to Frankfort. Here's what they had to say:

Trustee Mike Stevens: "He'll surely be missed in our community. … [His restaurant] was a great place, and our hope is that it will continue to be so in the future."

Trustee Dick Trevarthan: "First dinner I had [at his restaurant in the 1960s or '70s], he walked up, put a bottle of wine on the table and says, 'You live here, sir. This is for you.' That's the way he was all the time to me. A great friend to me, too."

Trustee Cindy Heath: "Every week somebody stops by [the Frankfort Chamber of Commerce] and wants to know where the German restaurant is. And it was the mark, the identifier for Frankfort long before the village starting doing its development."

Share your memories of Chef Klaus and your sympathies for his family in the comments section and on .


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David F. Dilling August 22, 2012 at 01:56 AM
Our deepest sympathy to the Ditchler family. Our thoughts and prayer's will be with you through this difficult time, Klaus will defiantly be missed. I am sure he is enjoying a beer in heaven with Papa Lou and Motel Joe. We will miss him dearly. Dave and Jodi Dilling.
james warren August 23, 2012 at 03:50 PM
RIP klaus i'll never forget you we had some good times togather james o warren
Robert Kaemerer August 23, 2012 at 10:43 PM
RIP Klaus... Before Klaus started in the restaurant bus. he owned a barber shop in the late 60's in Hodgkins, IL where I was a week-end shoe-shine boy. My mother, who passed in June 2012 was a childhood friend of Klaus' in Germany where they lived in the same building as children. They accidently found each other here in the USA where Klaus was living in Justice, IL & my family was in Bridgeview, IL and neither one knew they were only living a few miles from one another until one day my mother was coming home from a hairdresser’s appt. drove past a mailbox that had the name Ditchler on it. My mother thought could it be… she went to the door and sure enough it was her childhood friend, Klaus. Many years, many memories… My mother’s funeral service luncheon was just held at Klaus’ rest. June 30 and here it is the end of August and now Klaus and my mother will be rekindling their lifelong friendship! RIP to my mother Waltraud (known to all of us as Wanda) and Klaus. We are 'Divine Spiritual Beings' having a 'human' experience... learning (remembering) how to be 'LOVE' ... Namaste! ♥♥♥ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♥♥♥
Rev. David T. Mensing August 24, 2012 at 03:08 AM
I personally knew Klaus for well over forty years -- going back to when I was a German teacher at Rich East High School in Park Forest. Back then, it was the "old place" on Kansas Street....then on Nebraska. Between 1973 and 1986 we held our Delta Epsilon Phi (German honor society) annual initiation dinner every spring as guests of this icon, and we developed a great friendship. in 1986 I retired from teaching and went into the Lutheran ministry at Peace in Oak Forest. From then on, Klaus always greeted me as "Herr Pfarrer" whenever I dropped by. Surely will miss him "in tiefster Trauer"! Saw him last in June at a dinner with friends and colleagues and he said he was doing well for his age...stringing me along a bit. Still today, the cuisine at the Bier Stube is first rate, the ambience is the "old country" revisited, and the service is always courteous. I still enjoy dining there with friends and family and find the experience tantilizing to the palate and a refreshing change from popular restaurant chains. I've never had a bad experience at the Bier Stube from "way-back-when" to the "here-and-now," and I heartily recommend virtually EVERYTHING on the menu. You can't go wrong! Prosit! Here's to Gemütlichkeit! Vielen Dank, Klaus, for a terrific place to eat and drink the best! Sorry you won't be there to join us! Auf Wiedersehen, lieber Freund! Pastor David T. Mensing
Rhonda Wilson August 29, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I have known, and worked, for Klaus for many years as his cleaning girl. He was always such a sweet man and very good to me. I didn't know him like so many of his friends, but we developed a friendship away from the workplace, where he could just be Klaus. The last time I saw him, I brought him a jar of my homemade dill pickles. I will always carry with me the vision of his face when he bit into one! They are pretty sour, and the look on his face all puckered up, is one I'll never forget. We had a lot of laughs and I will miss him dearly. I encourage the family to contact me if I can in any way, be of help to you. I am so very sorry for your loss. Sincerely, Rhonda Wilson


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