Tiffany Family Name Means Service to the Community In Lake Forest

The family known for the Lantern restaurant was known in earlier generations as a police chief family.

Editor's Note: This is another in a series of Lake Forest family profiles to mark the city's 150th anniversary.


During the earlier years of history, the Tiffany family name was known for their generations of service to the local community.

In fact, an article in the Chicago Tribune published on May 17, 1952, opened up by stating, “In Lake Forest, the name Tiffany stands for police chief.”

Nearly 60 years later, the name Tiffany stands for something a little bit different – .

However, even though the family occupations may have changed throughout the years in the Tiffany family, a love of community service continues to be very much a part of their lives.

“I think the family’s contribution to the community is huge,” said Don Tiffany III, better known as “Tiff” to his friends.

Police, Fire Connection Goes Back Generations

Prior to purchasing The Lantern in 1975, Tiff’s father, Don Tiffany Jr., served for 12 years at the Deerfield Police Department, following in the footsteps of generations of Tiffanys before him, who had served their community as either a police officer or fire fighter.

His great uncle, Lester Tiffany, and grandfather, Frank Tiffany, each held the position of police chief in Lake Forest. Frank, who had previously served as police chief in North Chicago, took over his brother’s role in Lake Forest in 1930, when Lester became Lake County Sherriff.

During his tenure as Lake Forest Police Chief, Frank was credited with bringing the first two-way radios to the city’s squad cars, making Lake Forest the first city in the Midwest to have such a device.

According to members of the family, the installation of the two-way radios helped the play an instrumental role in breaking up a bootlegging operation run by Al Capone. Capppone's operation was running alcohol from Wisconsin through the area to various speakeasies in the Chicago area.

“There was a photo of him (Frank Tiffany) on the side of the running board with a Tommy gun, and his police hat cocked to the side,” said Dee Tiffany, wife of Frank’s grandson, John Tiffany.

Frank, and his wife Fern Harper Tiffany, had six children: Bernice, Thomas, Helen, George, Donald, and Richard. George Tiffany followed in his father’s footsteps, and became a Lake Forest policeman, and later went on to become a deputy with Lake County. Donald and Richard Tiffany became firefighters; Donald served in Lake Forest, and Richard served at Great Lakes Naval Base. 

Public Service Mantra Extends Beyond City Jobs 

However, the Tiffany’s service to the city of Lake Forest did not stop with local police and fire departments.

According to Dee Tiffany, a great deal of the family’s time when not at their day jobs was performing supplemental work.

Every morning before going to school, her husband, John, would go to the Armour estate on the north end of Sheridan Road, and he would restock logs in the families fireplace for the family to light when they got up in the morning.

“He would restock the pile and make it “match ready” when the family was still sleeping,” she explained.

In addition, various members of the Tiffany family also worked on the side pre-assembling toys that were purchased by families at the Surprise Shop toy store, located on Deerpath and Bank Lane, in the space that now houses Demetrios Jewelers.

“There was a real overlap between public and private service to families,” said Dee.

George Tiffany’s son, Tom, worked for the Lake Forest Post Office from 1958 to 1992, and also served as Facilities Manager at in the summer months.

During his tenure as a police officer, Donald Tiffany Jr., who had joined the Boy Scouts in his childhood, continued to support the organization in his adult life as a troop leader and on the Scout Camp Committee. He married Irene Martin Tiffany, and they had two children, Beth, and Donald III.

The Lantern Tradition Begins

According to Beth Tiffany, Donald Jr., passed up an opportunity with the Gurnee Police Department in 1975 to pursue his dream of owning a restaurant when he purchased The Lantern.

“For him, going into it not knowing anything about running a restaurant, and then doing well for himself was huge,” Beth explained. 

“I think he found kind of a little niche for himself,” added Tiff.

It was then the Tiffany family went from being the police and fire family to being The Lantern family.

“My entire time growing up, it was all about The Lantern,” said Tiff.

“The kids worked there when they got old enough,” explained Donald Jr.’s wife, Irene. 

Throughout the years, The Lantern has become famous for its family atmosphere, its Lantern Burgers, and for being a hangout for the , who practice at nearby Halas Hall.

Many of the members of the 1985 Super Bowl Championship team spent a great deal of time at The Lantern, and their photographs still adorn one of the restaurants walls to this day.

The Tiffany’s commitment to serving their community has not disappeared in recent generations, however.

The famous model trains that run on a track hung from The Lantern’s ceiling display advertisements from local businesses. The proceeds from this were raised by Donald Jr. to support scouting camps.

Dee Tiffany currently serves as manager of Volunteer Services at

When Don Tiffany’s health began to fail in 1991, Tiff took over as manager of The Lantern, and stayed there until he left for California in 2001 to pursue a career in acting.

Beth Tiffany has served as manager of The Lantern since then.

Donald Tiffany Jr. passed away in 2007.

The family was honored for their generations of service to Lake Forest in 2009, when they were awarded the Centennial Award by the .

Most of the Tiffany family still resides in Lake Forest, or Lake Bluff, with the exception of Tiff, who has gone on to have a successful acting career, appearing in films such as “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and “Oceans 12”, and the hit television series “Frasier.”

He does not make it back to the area as much as he did when he first moved away. However, he still considers Lake Forest and Lake Bluff to be his hometown.

“Lake Forest will always be Lake Forest in that it is home for so many people,” he said. “There’s something that keeps bringing people back, and you pick up right where you left off.”


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