OPINIONLeadership

True crime fans may not know how a restaurant figured into an infamous murder

Restaurant Rewind: Before Jimmy Hoffa disappeared, he was parked outside the establishment of a then-famous operator with a reputation Boy Scouts would envy. Here's the story of Harris Machus.

True crime stories have become a major entertainment genre, delivered in big numbers by podcasts, streaming TV shows and even several whole networks. It’s about time Restaurant Rewind, Restaurant Business’ retro-focused podcast, made its contribution to the field.

In this week’s episode, we look back at the small role a restaurant played in the assumed murder of Jimmy Hoffa, the labor leader and known organized-crime associate who disappeared without a trace in 1975. Even today, tips periodically surface about what happened to the Michigander, only to lead nowhere.

One of the few things known for sure is where Hoffa intended to dine on the day he disappeared. There’s no dispute that he was scheduled to lunch with two known gangsters at what was then one of the country’s most famous fine-dining restaurants, Machus’ Red Fox in Bloomfield, Mich.

He never made it past the parking lot, where his car was later found abandoned. But that was enough to indelibly connect the restaurant and its proprietor, an upstanding industry luminary named Harris Machus, to one of the most infamous disappearances in American history.

There was never any suggestion that Machus or his establishment had anything to do with what was later adjudged to be a murder. But a restaurant formerly noted for the caliber of its service and food became a popular destination for another reason overnight. Interest in true crime stories was popular even then, nearly 50 years ago.

The irony is that Machus was as solid of a citizen as you could hope to find, having served with honor in World War II, and forever shaping the modern U.S. restaurant business as it emerged in the 1950s and '60s. He even served as president of the National Restaurant Association, where he was a director for a solid decade.

Little is remembered about Machus today other than the connection to Hoffa. But there was so much more to the man, as this week’s podcast episode attests.

 But listen for yourself. Hit Play to learn about an often-overlooked pioneer of the business.

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