Critiques · Journeys

Head to the Lower Level for Billy Goat Tavern & Grill

The first time I saw the Saturday Night Live skit back in 1978 with Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi making “cheezborgers”, I knew we had to try one. It was never supposed to take over forty years since that to actually step foot inside the world famous Billy Goat Tavern & Grill, but are we glad we finally did!

Established back in 1934 by William “Billy Goat” Sianis as a great stopping place for sports fans in the Chicago area.  Legend tells that Sianis became known as “Billy Goat” when a goat fell off a truck passing by and wandered inside, so William grew a “goatee” received the nickname and changed the name of the tavern.

The Michigan Avenue location we visited opened up in 1964, but since Billy Goats’s has expanded to include locations on Wells Street, Washington Street, Madison Avenue, Navy Pier, O’Hare Airport, and Washington D.C.  


The famous legend of the Cubs Curse, which thanks to the hard work of this past year’s team has been broken, was originated from William Sianis.  Below is an excerpt from their website regarding the incident.  

“October 6th, a sad day in Cubs history. The Cubs entered game four of the World Series leading the Detroit Tigers 2 games to 1, and needing to win only two of the next four games played at Wrigley Field. A local Greek, William “Billy Goat” Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern and a Cubs fan, bought two tickets to Game four. Hoping to bring his team good luck he took his pet goat, Murphy, with him to the game. At the entrance to the park, the Andy Fran ushers stopped Billy Goat from entering saying that no animals are allowed in the park. Billy Goat, frustrated, appealed to the owner of the Cubs, P.K. Wrigley. Wrigley replied, “Let Billy in, but not the goat.” Billy Goat asked, “Why not the goat?” Wrigley answered, “Because the goat stinks.” According to legend, the goat and Billy were upset, so then Billy threw up his arms and exclaimed, “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. Subsequently, the Cubs lost game four, and the remaining series getting swept at home and from the World Series. Billy Goat promptly sent a telegram to P.K. Wrigley, stating, “Who stinks now?” For the next twenty years, throughout the remainder of Billy Goat’s life the Cubs would finish each season at 5th place or lower, establishing a pattern that would reverse the Cubs luck and term the team “The Lovable Losers.” The World Series would become a dream, and “wait ’til next year” would become the team’s motto. From 1946 to 2003, the Cubs would post a 4250-4874 (.466) record, have only 15 winning seasons, finish in first place a mere 3 times, have no pennants, no World Series appearances let alone wins, with only four post season experiences (1984, 1989, 1998, 2003) resulting in a complete reversal of their fortunes. The Cubs were and are a cursed franchise.”

All of that is history now, but for more of the background and all information about this great place to eat and have a drink, click Billy Goat’s Tavern.

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Their menu is predictable, but oh so delicious and the atmosphere is fun and relaxing.  Billy Goat’s Tavern & Grill is a Chicago landmark, come share what the locals have been enjoying next time you are in town.

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