"The Auditorium, a theater, and the Billy Goat, a tavern, are two Chicago landmarks. The first sprang from the vision of Louis Sullivan, nonpareil of architects. The second sprang from the vision of nonpareil journalist Mike Royko, when days seemed too long and nights too short. It is our good fortune that Rick Kogan, of a fabled Chicago legacy, has put forth a work so whimsical, wistful, and wondrous."
Let the Goat In!
In the summer of 1934, a baby goat fell off a truck, limped into a tavern owned by Greek immigrant William Sianis, and a Chicago icon was born. The Billy Goat Inn became a haven for newspaper reporters, policemen, politicians, and anyone else drawn to the hospitality and showmanship of hardworking "Billy Goat" Sianis and his often antic, uniquely comforting establishment. But did Billy jinx the Cubs? When he and one of his goats were barred from entering Wrigley Field during the 1945 World Series, the Cubs' eventual loss to Detroit fueled a legend as enduring as their fans' "Wait 'til next year" mantra. Today there are eight Billy Goat Taverns, including one in Washington, D.C., and Billy's nephew, Sam Sianis--a celebrity in his own right--oversees what U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois called "a national institution."
Rick Kogan's affectionate tale plunks you down at a barstool next to some of the Billy Goat's regulars, visitors, employees, and such luminaries as columnist Mike Royko, and those young stars--John Belushi, Bill Murray, and Don Novello--who immortalized Sam and the tavern in the Saturday Night Live Olympia Diner ("Cheezborger, Cheezborger! No fries . . . chips!") skits. "I remember . . . I miss . . .," someone will say, and names and faces begin to float through the tavern air. . . In these echoes Kogan lets you see and hear why taverns remain essential social focal points and lets you understand what makes a Chicago original.