Billy Goat Tavern

15 04 2013

On a typical Friday afternoon in the summer, a co-worker of mine decides to organize an impromptu lunch outing to the famous Original Billy Goat Tavern. A few of us had never been to the Billy Goat, even though we grew up in Chicago, so we agreed for an adventurous lunch experience. It was a short walk from the Fairfield Inn & Suites, as we travelled to Grand Avenue and walked underground to the well-known entrance to Billy Goat Tavern. Usually, before I got to a restaurant, I search for the menu online so I am not in a rush to choose my very important lunch entrée. However, this particular Friday, I was pressed for time and walked into Billy Goat Tavern blindly. I, of course, was the first person to order (After learning this was done on purpose because I had never been there before). So, I carefully looked at the menu and the man behind the counter loudly asked, “What can I get you”? I said, “Grilled cheese, fries, and a coke”, while I search for a credit card inside my wallet. The man barked back, “No fries, CHEEPS, no Pepsi – Coke!” I was so alarmed, I just replied, “OK, Ok, OK!” Before, I could even reply with the last “OK”, I hear, “No credit, cash ONLY!” I turned around to hear my co-workers laughing uncontrollably, as I scramble for cash in my purse, which I ended up borrowing from a co-worker anyways. To my surprise, that is the culture of the Billy Goat Tavern, and I barely survived!

If you have heard of the stories about Al Capone and the Great Chicago Fire, world-famous Billy Goat Tavern is sure to be another story at the top of the list. The story goes, in 1934, William Siania purchased a bar called the Lincoln Tavern for $205 with a check, located across from the now called United Center. Siania earned the nickname “Billy Goat” because one afternoon, a goat fell off a passing truck and wandered inside Lincoln Tavern. Lincoln Tavern soon changed its name to the Billy Goat Tavern. In 1944, during the Republican Convention, “Billy Goat” posted a signed, “No Republicans allowed”. This publicity stunt led to a packed tavern full of republicans demanding service. In 1964, the Billy Goat Tavern moved to its present location off Michigan Avenue. Due to the new location, near the Chicago Tribune, the famous Billy Goat Tavern exchanged its sport fan cliental for the Hall of Fame Chicago news media giants of the day. Although these stories are full of history, others may recognize the name Billy Goat Tavern from the famous SNL skit ( The skit isn’t far from the truth; “Cheezborger, Cheezborger, CHEEPS, No Pepsi – Coke!” If you didn’t find yourself laughing in the 1980’s during this skit, you certainly will after visiting any Chicagoland Billy Goat Tavern location. Currently, there are 5 other locations in Chicago, 1 Chicago suburb, and 1 in Washington D.C.

Near Tribune Towers and Wrigley Building
430 N. Michigan Ave at Lower Level
Phone: (312) 222-1525

by: Stefanie Killey




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