Billy Goat TavernChicago
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Wheaton comedian John Belushi brought the Billy Goat national fame when he portrayed a frenzied Greek cook on "Saturday Night Live" in the mid-'70s. But the Billy Goat, located out of the light of day on murky Lower Michigan Avenue, had long been a local legend, since original owner William Sianis was forbidden by Chicago Cubs management to bring his house goat into Wrigley Field during a 1945 World Series game. Insulted, Sianis' curse that the Cubs would never again win a championship has held true. The Billy Goat, founded across from the old Chicago Stadium on Madison Street in 1934 and relocated to Michigan Avenue in 1964, also is known for its collection of newspapermen who wandered in after the dailies were put to bed. Eminent Chicago writers such as David Condon, Mike Royko, Irv Kupcinet, Bill Granger and Roger Ebert are honored both with blown-up bylines plastered behind one length of the L-shaped bar and on the "Wall of Fame" of pictures and articles on the other side of the room. Some still frequent the place, which has a central grill in between two dining areas, with a "VIP Room" sequestered to the rear. "Reporters like it down here because it's old-fashioned," said Bill Sianis, son of Sam Sianis, the founder's nephew and current owner. The Billy Goat reeks with local color; pictures, news clippings and trivia including numerous tributes to William Sianis after his passing, a "Wise Guys Corner" of Chicago crooks and a decree from the Chicago Police Department. That's Sam himself doing a Greek dance, pictured behind the bar under the wall clock. He's also photographed schmoozing with various Greek beauty queens. Though Peter Gabriel, Sir Mix-A-Lot and Soundgarden are now on the jukebox, this shot-and-a-beer-and-a-burger place is still the domain of local traders, advertising execs and journalists, many of whom omit the burger. Tourists and first-timers get a kick out of it. Schlitz is on draft ... has been for 62 years.