Billy Goat Tavern
Traditional American Food
Near Tribune Towers and Wrigley Building
430 N. Michigan Ave at Lower Level
A Greek immigrant named William Sianis bought Lincoln Tavern in 1934 which was originally located across from the Chicago Stadium, now known as the United Center and attracted a lot of sports fans. Sianis bought the tavern for $205 dollars that originally bounced but was later repaid after the first weekend of being open for business. Sianis got the nickname “Billy Goat” because a goat fell off a passing truck and wandered inside of his tavern. He then adopted the goat, grew a goatee, got the nickname “Billy Goat,” and changed the name of the bar to the Billy Goat Tavern.
In 1964 Sianis moved the original tavern to its current location on Michigan Ave, and through all the restoration and rebuilding of The Loop, it has stayed strong and with continuous business. He has also expanded and created 8 more Billy Goat Taverns across Chicago and the suburbs.
As many may have seen on the SNL skit of The Olympia Restaurant, the Billy Goat Tavern only has a few options on the menu. “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, Cheezborger!” “No Pepsi… Coke!” So naturally when I went there, I got a double “Cheezborger” and it was delicious. They have a little bar where you can put your own toppings on your burger. For two burgers, two drinks, and fries I spent $12, which is totally within our poor college budget.
But the menu doesn’t just have “cheezborgers,” they have hamburgers (single or double), chicken or beef sandwiches, hotdogs, steak and eggs, etc. They are also now open for breakfast from 7:30 am to 11 am! The atmosphere there was amazing and everyone seemed in good spirits. They cut the burgers where you can see them and there’s a bar to chill and eat at. The Billy Goat clearly has significance to the neighborhoods and to most Chicagoans since it’s been around since the 1930’s. They seem to have a flow of regular customers and the cliental varied from college kids to families to the older generations. The workers there are very friendly and upbeat! I will for sure be visiting again!
(They also have an impressive Wall of Fame)
Many Chicagoans know the Chicago Cub goat curse; William “Billy Goat” Sianis is to blame for that. Sianis bought two tickets to game four of the baseball playoffs in 1945 for him and his goat, hoping his goat would bring good luck for the Cubbies. But at the gate Billy Goat was stopped and told no animals are allowed inside the park. He then asked the owner of Wrigley to let him and his goat in but he said only William could come in because “the goat stinks.” Frustrated William “Billy Goat” Sianis shouted “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.” The Cubs were officially cursed and went on to lose game four of the playoffs and have no won World Series since. As of today, the curse has been going on for 67 years, 6 months, and 11 days.
Contributed by Laura Martin