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Mike Ditka SpeakerChicago Bears legendary coach Mike Ditka is the new spokesman for Al’s Beef and Nancy’s Pizza in Chicago and it’s not his first experience in the restaurant business. His “Ditka’s Steakhouse” has 4 locations across the US.

Da Coach was introduced Tuesday at the site of a new Al’s Beef location at 234 S. Wabash Street. Chicago Franchise Systems, a Mokena-based company that owns the restaurants, is employing Ditka as part of its expansion plans.

“He’s a big fan of ours – he loves our food,” said Dave Howey, president of Chicago Franchise Systems. “He’s a good face to put on our brand, especially as we move outside of Chicago. It kind of gives it an endorsement that says this is something to try.”

Founded in 1938 as a sandwich stand in Chicago’s Little Italy, Al’s Beef opened its first storefront on Taylor Street, building a passionate local following. Purchased by Chicago Franchise Systems in 1999, the chain has expanded to 18 locations in Illinois, California and Nevada, including the soon-to-open Chicago restaurant

Nancy’s Pizza, founded in 1971, has grown to 31 locations under Chicago Franchise Systems, which acquired the rights to the restaurant in 1990.  The chain has expanded to Atlanta and is opening a number of locations in California, according to Howey.

Howey projects there will 12 to 15 new restaurant openings under the two banners by the end of next year. He plans to use Ditka to build both brands through in-store marketing, paid advertisements and other promotions.

The 74-year-old Ditka knows a thing or two about grub, owning his own restaurant chain Ditka’s, which has locations in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Arizona. He said what he does in his restaurants is different than Al’s because his restaurants are sit-down style. If your company is interesting in hiring Mike Ditka or other Chicago Bears players for appearances or speaking engagements contact AthletePromotions.

Watch a Video of Mike Ditka Speaking About “Success”




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