Changes are, unless you worked in downtown Chicago, you would have never heard of this place if it weren’t for John Belushi and Saturday Night Live, who immortalized the Billy Goat in their famous “Cheezeboogah, cheezeboogah” (video) sketch decades ago.
Yes, the Billy Goat really exists, and is a Chicago legend. The address often stated for the original location can easily be misleading. To be more precise, the address is for the building that is in front of the stairway that leads down to the Billy Goat, which hides in the darkness of Lower Wacker Drive, along the Chicago River.
The ”Goat’ started in 1934, when William “Billy Goat” Sianis purchased the Lincoln Tavern, near Chicago Stadium, for a $205 check that bounced (he made it good on opening weekend).
They moved to their present location in the early 60’s, and have presided over the netherworld of Chicago’s multi-layered streets ever since.
The location, directly underneath the Wrigley Building (yes, that Wrigley) was sorta, kinda half-way between the offices of the Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun Times, and thus many a print reporter, and later, other media folks (including me) made BG one of the premier Windy City media hangouts.
Now with half a dozen locations in the metro area, and one in Washington, DC, the ‘goat may be gruff, but it remains a fun destination for a quick meal, with a small plate of comic nostalgia on the side.