Fran Tate and Pepe’s Update

Those of you who have been with us for awhile know of our friendship with our “Barrow, Alaska, Bureau Chief,” the amazing Fran Tate.

Fran has been dealing with some challenges lately and, unfortunately, this Saturday morning, she was handed another.  We’ve just found out that Fran’s iconic restaurant, Pepe’s North of the Border has burned down.

Fran has been in a rehab facility, in Anchorage.  Her son, Joe, and long time friend, Bob, were on the site of the restaurant early this morning and told us “There was no saving the restaurant.  It just went so fast.”  As we write this, Joe and Bob are wrestling with how to break this devastating news to Fran.

Everyone is in shock and in need of all of our prayers.  For the moment, please do not try contacting Fran.  You can post any messages for Fran in this blog’s comments section and we will be sure to get them to her.  Joe and Bob will be keeping us up to date and we will pass along anything we learn to her extended “family in the lower 48.”


About steveandjohnnie

Award winning Chicago Broadcasters, inducted into WGN radio's Walk Of Fame. Authors of the Les Paul memoir, "A Little More Les." You'll find even more about us at
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67 Responses to Fran Tate and Pepe’s Update

  1. Michael Napientek says:

    So sorry to hear that. The poor woman has been through so much. She will be definitely in my prayers. Always enjoyed hearing you on ‘GN and every time you talked to Fran. Have you seen
    what the “powers that be” are doing with the station?? Take care of yourselves Him and Her! Love you guys always

  2. Pat says:

    I am so sorry to hear about Fran and her restaurant. Please let her know she is in my prayers and that she has many friends who are thinking of her. Thanks for keeping me informed. If there is anything I can do, send a card or help, let me know. (I still miss you two and with all the shake up at WGN going on, they should have brought you two back.)

  3. Please let Fran know that I am praying for her and hoping she will get better. It was so sad to hear about her restaurant burning down. I remember Fran from a very long time ago. I always enjoyed when she was on your show. Let her know that we all care about her and are sending our love.♥

  4. Gayle says:

    She will be in my thoights. If anyone takes up a collection for her please let us know.

  5. That is so sad, all the best and prayers for Fran. EmailDuane.

  6. jumping josie says:

    Tell Fran I’m thinking of her, sending all positive vibes her way… So sorry about the loss of her restaurant, too. Keep waiting to hear that you two are recalled to WGN…. continue to miss you lots.

  7. Vicki says:

    If in the future you can give us her address at the rehab center we could bombard her with cards.She needs to now how much she has meant to us all these years.

  8. Sue May says:

    thanks for keeping us up to date. Will pray for Fran. Miss you guys but love that you are on FB!

  9. Earl Kennedy says:

    Fran is a one of a kind lady whose type just isn’t seen much anymore! Sorry to hear about the restaurant and Fran’s downward turn of events–I’ll definitely keep her, and the two of you, in my thoughts and prayers.

  10. rosa vargas says:

    I’msorry to hear that! You’ll be in my prayers Franny! God Loves You!!♥

  11. Our dear Fran is in my prayers also. Hope all is well with you two. Since you left no one has told me to “never call this radio station again,” I miss that. Looks like WGN is finally back working the second step, it was weird for a while.

    • Pat M says:

      Certainly miss you two and some of the others. Always liked waking up to GN, until the clown came on. Very glad Steve Cochran will be on instead. Will make AMs bearable again.

  12. Pat M says:

    Loved you two,, and Fran. Was always a bright spot in the night when I couldn’t sleep. I will pray for Fran. Let us know if we can send cards to her.

  13. Jo says:

    My thoughts and prayers are will Fran and her son and extended family

  14. SJEngelhardt says:

    Hey–if anyone starts an Indiegogo for funding, let us know. I’d contribute.

  15. Terri says:

    I am so sorry to hear this. Fran and her story is one of determination, there needs to be more women like her in our world. Prayers for her, family and friends.

  16. Sue McNeil says:

    Our hearts go out to Fran, her son and all her “Peppy” family.
    We wish Fran to get well. Thanks for keeping us up to date.
    Sue McNeil

  17. Elliott fasel says:


  18. Jennufer burian says:

    So very sorry to hear this sad news. Thank you for keeping us in the loop, and let us know what we can do do help.

  19. dekerivers says:

    My heart sank when reading this news. The restaurant was were child and love, I am very sad about this.

  20. So sorry to hear this as I always enjoyed hearing Frans report from Way Up North…loved that melody as well. Do miss you 2 and hope you are enjoying your retirement…welcome back whenever you can return to wgn. Im happy about the new changes but still not the same without you.
    Prayers and love to Fran.

  21. Vicky says:

    Fran you are in my prayers Thank you Steve and Johnnie for the info

  22. Barb Mor says:

    More prayers and hopes for positive things to come Fran’s way.
    I, like all of the above have missed that 11-5 shift and the phone calls, Easter visits and all with Fran. I echo all of the above comments. Wish you were back, Miss you, Miss M Rosenberg and miss Paula, to name a few.
    And speaking of the WGN changes,,,how about Nick D? He is given a
    3-hour time slot and call it FULL TIME. Go figure.
    Again, our best wishes to Fran and her family.
    bam from north o f QCA

  23. Sharon says:

    For sure, Fran is in our prayers!!

  24. Judy Kay says:

    I love you, him and her, for bringing this news , tho sad, about Fran Tate. Isn’t it something, how some get hit when they are down ? But isn’t it wonderful, that this little lady has SPUNK…and will overcome this with time, and just go on. Somehow, tho I don’t know her, I always felt that Fran had stories to tell, and she always came through. Things are only things… She has what counts….people to love her and help her through. YOU BOTH are among those friends who care. Oh that we all could be so blessed. thank you for sharing. May God hold her in his loving arms.

    I am so thrilled that GN has begun to come back…and even though it may sound like a broken record..I too wish soooooooooooooo much when I turn my little radio on behind my pillow….that it was HIM & HER on the other side ! I think of you every night. truly. I respect you both, and consider you friends. You are missed by all of us. Take solace in that. I spent all last week Saturday afternoon reading Roy Leonard’s archived posts ! That was almost like being in church ! LOL !! MISS ALL OF YOU SO MUCH. …..if ever you feel down and out… just know you made many people happy. You COUNTED !!! Be well. and thank you.

  25. CarolS says:

    Am so sorry to hear this news. Will keep Fran in my prayers. Please post if anyone is taking a collection for her.

  26. Sue says:

    Dearest Fran, I do hope you are doing okay. Please take good care of yourself. Our prayers are with you and your family and many friends are praying for you as well. Thank you, Steve and Johnnie for keeping us posted. God Bless You.

  27. Gittel Hunt says:

    What sad news. Please keep us informed.

  28. D' Wisenbarger says:

    It’s hard to put in words that would express how sorry we all feel about this latest news. Fran has been a part of our lives for so long. She is family and my prayers are with her and her family.

  29. anita kleinstein says:

    Hope Fran will feel better soon and so sorry to hear about Pepe’s. We all miss hearing about Fran and keeping up with her through you. Wish you were back; maybe someday. They took a good thing and made a mess. Miss you and him. Love

  30. Barb Asher says:

    I am so sorry… maybe if there is insurance money they can build a new restaurant & Fran can help plan how it should be? she would be good at that

  31. Sally Scheef says:

    It is a great loss that the restaurant burned!
    I hope it helps Fran a little to know that many people “down here” are thinking of her.

  32. Linda Sue says:

    Steve and Johnnie, Because of your special relationship with THE Fran Tate, I bought and read her book. Fran Tate has had many challenges in life. I know Fran is in a fragile state with her health and that Pepe’s was her life, so I wish her the best, knwoing she can handle the truth. I wish life was more fair in what happens …good people should have good things happen to them. I have been told that we are not given more than we can handle…I am still trying to figure out if that is true. I know one thing Fran will be concerned about, other than the building with her possessions being gone, but she will wonder what will happen to her employees. Good lucuk

  33. Linda Sue says:

    Oh WOW! I just read the newspaper story. Fran is going to rebuild. YAY!!!

  34. Steve & Johnnie – I’m praying for Fran . I wish I could come up with some kind of magic that would comfort Fran during such a rough time of her life . Fran , much like HIM & HER , have spent so much of her life giving , helping & comforting other in need . Remember EASTER ? Who can forget . I’m sure that she’s aware that she’s got extended family down here including HIM & HER !
    It is also so kind of you two to keep us informed ! Geez ! I wish that I was a better writer !
    I believe that people like FRAN , STEVE & JOHNNIE , and many others in “your crowd” , ( Spike Odell & Katie Quick come to mind ) , make God smile , irregardless of who your God is !
    Ya all make this world a better place ! Our Prayers are with Fran !
    Signed , Lester ( A former WGN Donut Man )

  35. Kathy Williams says:

    Friends from northern Michigan send love and good wishes.

  36. says:

    Awww…so sad. Sending Fran lots of love and light in this time of distress!

  37. Kathleen A. Thomas says:

    Always enjoyed visits with Fran on the radio. So very sorry to hear this sad news. Love to Fran.

  38. Dorothy Beezhold says:

    Words can’t convey how much we still miss I miss you both, and for Fran–she will find a way to benefit from this. Her thoughts and actions will benefit her employees, too, I am certain. I broke my hip and turned it into a vacation. She has the attitude that can do the same. My best wishes for a beneficial outcome for her and those she cares about.

  39. Jayne Smith says:

    Oh, this is such terrible and heartbreaking news. My thoughts and prayers are with Fran and her son. I’m hoping that Fran gets well real soon and takes that determination of hers (that made Pepe’s what it was) and rebuilds. She has so many friends out here that are sending her much love and huge hugs! I love and miss you all………………………Jayne

  40. MJ Jones says:

    Steve and Johnnie
    I posted your message on
    Linked In and ” they misspelled Fran ‘s
    Last name!!” Tried to correct it but
    Doesn’t ‘t work!!!!!!

  41. Eileen Cahill says:

    Power Prayers from our house to yours!

  42. Daniel Joyce says:

    I always wanted to follow my sister “Mo” as a polar bear, that distinction reached when Fran would witness you jumping into the Arctic Ocean – what a thought. Pull out of it Fran, and I hope the insurance covers it.

  43. Barb says:

    Thank you for keeping us informed about Fran, she is in my prayers.

  44. Buch says:

    Oh, thoughts and prayers to one of a kind.

  45. Maggie from Valparaiso, IN says:

    Thank you for sharing the sad news about Fran. I like so many of the above writers wish her the best. I miss her being on the radio with you two. Waiting for you two to come out of retirement and coming back to WGN. God’s Blessings to all three of you.

  46. Susan Lind says:

    Very, very sorry to hear this. I always enjoyed your conversations with Fran. Hopefully, the community will pull together to help out. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions as to how we all can help, just let us know. Prayers to Fran and her family.

  47. says:

    This is so sad. Please keep us updated. She, and all of Barrow, is in my prayers. God Bless you both. Jo Christian

  48. Char Lane says:

    My Prayers are sure coming Fran’s way and Blessings for her recovery.
    Miss “You two SOOOOOO MUCHHHHHHHH!!!!! Char

  49. Wendy says:

    Fran I’m sending prayers and good wishes your way. Sorry about your restaurant . Please let us know how we can help.
    Thank you Steve and Johnnie for all that you do.

  50. Karen says:

    I to echo all of the above comments. Fran is in my thoughts and prayers as well as her son and extended family. If we are allowed to send cards please let us know. So wishing that you were part of the comings and goings on GN. Praying for that to come to as well.

  51. Judy B. says:

    Always enjoyed the times you had Fran on the air, hopefully things will start going a lot better for her and her family. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.

  52. tom kraus says:

    so sad 2 hear about Fran, as long no one hurt in fire that’s one good thing, so many hours of joy she gave people during your shows and herself traveling many miles to help others smile

  53. Debbie Jo says:

    Prayers are being lifted as I write.

  54. For so many years, my late father and I enjoyed hearing Fran’s conversations and adventures on WGN. Truly, her can-do spirit is so inspirational and just good fun. I am so thankful no one was injured but let her know she is thought of often and especially prayerfully today.

  55. C.W. says:

    Best thing you can do right now is to send Fran dry pinto beans along with your prayers, … she will for sure know that it came from “us kids”
    You know …. this is just another good example for a reason for “us kids in the classroom” to organize so we can make a difference in all our lives, if we don’t take care of our mentors, teachers, pals, night owls, bread and newspaper delivery drivers, then who will?
    SK and JP please don’t waste this opportunity, only you and maybe Dan, know who the kids in the classroom are! Fran needs our help and we all are willing to help so help us help her and all those others that might need our help down the road too. You are the GLUE to all of us, I certainly hope you will consider my plea.
    with loving regards all the way from Bankrupt Detroit

  56. Cathy Bautz says:

    I echo the statement made by the mayor of the North Slope Borough. We all lost a part of ourselves when we heard this totally devastating news. Fran and her family are already in my prayers.
    Please let me know if there is ANYTHING any of us can do to attempt to somewhat ease this horrid burden for all of them.

  57. I pray that Fran and her family have the strength to deal with this tragedy.

  58. Margaret Mahoney says:

    So sorry to hear about the fire. Will keep Fran and her family in my prayers. Love the changes at
    GN – now all we need is for the two of you to return – miss lots of your features especially Fran and
    “A Little more of Les” – Hope the people at GN wake up and get the two of you back on the air where you belong.

  59. Bettye Flickinger says:

    To Dear Fran and Family- prayers and kindest thoughts are with you all. This too shall pass. It is so hard to be a senior and then be told your life’s work is no longer there. Maybe God’s way of telling us he has something else in mind. FAITH. No one can take that away. My love to all. God Bless Us Everyone.

  60. verna (Christmas stocking lady) says:

    Just let her we all love her, and we are here whatever she needs!!

  61. Pat M says:

    Anything new about Fran and the aftermath of the fire?

  62. Chad G says:

    Just saw you on Johnny Carson. I really enjoyed hearing about Pepe’s. I was in the restaurant business for a few years… Your stories about Barrow has now put visiting there on my bucket list. I’m sorry to learn of your challenges. I am diabetic and I’m loosing the feeling in my feet. Especially my toes are numb…I will pray for you and just wanted to say thanks for putting a smile on my face watching you with Mr. Carson.

  63. Mark Donahue says:

    Dear Fran I live in Beverly Massachusetts. I was watching Johnny Carson reruns and you came on his show. YOU were a fantastic guest. I go a real kick out of the walrus gift for Johnny.
    Fran I was curious of pepy’s restaurant and you. So I googled that information. Found the news that your beloved restaurant was devastated by fire.. I feel very very bad and like to know how you’re doing now. you are a woman to be admired. I wish I had one tenth of your energy hope to hear from you.
    Sincerely Mark Donahue

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