Daily Herald
Restaurant's fate remains undetermined
By Keri Wyatt Kent | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:10 PM

Originally published Jan. 11, 1993

The fate of the green and white building at the corner of Northwest Highway and Smith Road in Palatine remains shrouded, like so many other details of the mass murder that occurred there late Friday night.

Frank Portillo, owner of Oak Brook-based Brown's Chicken & Pasta Inc., said he's not sure what the company will do with the restaurant in Palatine.

"We don't know at this point," he said. "We're taking this not even one day at a time, but one hour at a time."

The bodies of the couple that owned the franchise, and five employees, were found early Saturday morning in the restaurant.

They had been shot to death and stashed in the two large coolers in the rear of the restaurant.

Ann Tiechow, sister of Richard Ehlenfeldt, the owner of the restaurant, said Sunday that the family has not made any decisions about the business and its future.

No arrests or charges have been made in the case. Meanwhile, police cars and barricades surround the building, located a few hundred yards from a strip shopping center.

"In 40 years, there has never been an incident like this," Portillo said.

Frank Portillo is the brother of Dick Portillo, who owns the Portillo's Hot Dogs chain. The businesses are separate.

Other fast-food restaurants hit by violent tragedy have reacted in various ways. In 1984, when a gunman opened fire in a San Ysidro, Calif., McDonald's restaurant, killing 20 people, the company razed the eatery soon after the incident. In 1991, a gunman drove his car through the front window of Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, and opened fire, killing 22 people and injured others before killing himself.