Cultural Revolutions

Jovan Trboyevic, R.I.P.

On January 10 Jovan Trboyevic, a good friend and longtime supporter of The Rockford Institute, died at his home in Chicago at the age of 89.  He will be remembered in his adopted city as a restaurateur extraordinaire who set uncompromising standards for fine dining and customer behavior.  As the Chicago Tribune obituarist recalled, “The sort of casual incivility that we regard as a fact of life today would get you thrown out of a Trboyevic restaurant, whether it was Jovan, the restaurant he opened in 1967; the legendary Le Perroquet, which from 1973 through 1984 was arguably Chicago’s finest restaurant; or Les Nomades, which he opened as a private club in 1978. . . . Tables of loud diners who couldn’t rein in their exuberance were asked to leave. . . . In a famous incident involving architects who spread their blueprints across a Le Perroquet table, Trboyevic comped the meal but ordered the offenders to pack up and never return.”

To establish some of the best restaurants in the Western Hemisphere was a singular feat, but Jovo’s previous life story is equally worthy of a full-fledged biography.  As a subaltern in the Royal Yugoslav Army, in April 1941 he evaded capture by the invading Axis forces by joining the crew of a submarine that slipped out of the Bay of Cattaro and sailed for Crete.  He was transferred to Egypt, where the British—impressed by the intelligence, cool poise, and polyglot...

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