Is Hulu's 'The Bear' Based on a Real Restaurant? Fans Want to Know

Hulu's critically-acclaimed restaurant drama 'The Bear' is back on the streaming service for a second season. Is it based on a true story?

Olivia Hebert - Author

Jun. 23 2023, Published 8:32 a.m. ET

Cooks working in 'The Bear'  on Hulu
Source: Hulu

Hulu's critically-acclaimed restaurant drama The Bear is back on the streaming service for a second season. Viewers are dying to know whether or not the show is based on a true story.

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The show follows Carmy Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White) as he tries to revive his late brother's cult-favorite Chicago restaurant. The Bear captures the chaos of working in the restaurant industry.

Find out more about The Bear's real-life inspiration below.

Is 'The Bear' show based on a real restaurant? It was inspired by this Chicago joint.

In The Bear, the restaurant, The Original Beef of Chicago, is famous for its Italian beef sandwiches. The restaurant in The Bear takes inspiration from the real-life restaurant Mr. Beef, a Chicago staple in the River North neighborhood that garnered a cult following for its beloved Italian beef sandwiches. The co-founder of Mr. Beef, Joseph Zucchero, died unexpectedly on March 1, 2023, at 69 years old.

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According to NPR, Joseph and his brother, Dominic, began Mr. Beef in the late 1970s and eventually built up a reputation as a classic go-to for Italian sandwiches. The sandwich came from their Italian immigrant forefathers in the early 20th century.

At the time, they could only afford the less-tender cuts of the cow. With a little experimentation, they discovered that cooking these less-desired cuts for a longer period of time led to super tender meat.

Joseph's son Christopher once told NPR the crucial components of the Italian sandwich included: slow-cooked slivers of beef, an Italian relish called giardiniera, good bread, and all sorts of customizable textures.

"It's strictly our root food," Christopher said. "It really is our food here in Chicago."

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'The Bear' paid homage to the original restaurant.

Two men talking in the restaurant in 'The Bear' on Hulu
Source: Hulu

The hit FX show took direct inspiration from Mr. Beef by not only using Italian beef sandwiches as the staple meal but also creating a set based on Mr. Beef's original layout.

On the set design, Joseph said, "My son and a young man that he grew up with, Chris Storer, would come down here when they were kids. You know, they were kids, and I let them hang around the restaurant."

"They built this [set] inside a building. And they took me to it." He continued, "They wanted me to see it. And my mouth dropped. I was like, 'Oh, my God' — I mean, from the floor to the ceiling to the countertops to the equipment.

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Did 'The Bear' boost the real restaurant's popularity?

According to Joseph, the show's popularity led to a surge in customers for Mr. Beef. The restaurant has always been a Chicago cultural mainstay with famous faces like Jay Leno having his own fond memories of the joint.

The comedian recalled his days as a struggling stand-up comedian in which he would sleep in his car in the restaurant's parking lot. Mr. Beef now has pictures of the former Tonight Show host on their walls. Leno has publicly lauded Mr. Beef for its delicious food.

Other celebrities and actors like Joe Mantegna are also big fans of the restaurant. The Bear has definitely brought more traffic to an already popular restaurant in Chicago.

The Bear Season 2 is now streaming on Hulu.

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