CHICAGO – The legendary Bill Goat Tavern owned by the Sianis family – whose uncle famously put a curse on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 that is still holding – may temporarily have to find a new home to make way for construction of a huge building in its place.
“I want to stay here,” owner Sianis said. “I’ve been here for almost 50 years. Like the Realtors, I’m part of Michigan Avenue,” he added, NPR reported. The subterranean tavern has remained the same since it moved to its location in 1964, 19 years after Sam’s uncle, William “Billy Goat” Sianis – was asked to leave a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs’ home ground of Wrigley Field because his pet goat’s odor was bothering other fans.
He was outraged and declared, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more,” which has been interpreted to mean that there would never be another World Series game won at Wrigley Field. He had shown up with the goat which he said would bring the Cubs good luck but club owner P.K. Wrigley ordered him ousted because he said that the goat “stinks.”
Angry, Sianis left and said: “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.” Sixty-eight years later, the goat has not seen its baseball game and the Cubs haven’t seen a pennant.
That hasn’t kept the Billy Goat Tavern from being one of the city’s most popular sports landmarks. Sam Sianis said he knew nothing of potential plans to replace the Realtor Building at 430 N. Michigan Ave. and the block to the west with 1 million to 2 million square feet of building and plaza space that would include a high-end hotel, condominiums, offices and stores.
He said once word got out the tavern might have to move that customers started coming in early in the morning. A few patrons were already sitting at the well-worn tables and chairs, waiting for their orders, admiring the photos that line the walls. “Nothing has changed since 1964,” Sianis said. “Nothing has changed from the time we opened up to now.”
The Billy Goat Tavern was immortalized by John Belushi on Saturday Night Live who spoofed the way its Greek owners operated the place. Belushi was a member of the city’s famed Second City comedy troupe and appeared in the skit as a Greek waiter telling patrons the menu fare was simple: “Cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger. No Pepsi. Coke.”
But The Billy Goat Tavern is still standing … although perhaps not for long.