Redevelopment threatens Chicago`s iconic Billy Goat Tavern - KMSP-TV

Redevelopment threatens Chicago`s iconic Billy Goat Tavern

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Billy Goat Tavern, a legendary Chicago bar known for its cheeseburgers and curse, could be facing some bad luck of its own: development.

Cheezborger, chips and a Coke could bulldozed by the plans just approved by the National Association of Realtors Board of Directors, which would replace the current building under which the Billy Goat resides, with what's described as a world class hotel, condominiums, offices and stores.

The Tavern was immortalized on Saturday Night Live by John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd in 1978, but long before then it was the home of legendary newspapermen and those who gathered to hear them dissect the news of the day.

"The bylines on the wall are probably the most significant aspect of its heritage," 33-year Billy Goat bartender Jeff Magill says. "We know about the goat and the curse and some wonderful stories, but it's those bylines, it was an esteemed event to have your name entered onto that wall."

This is not the original Billy Goat Tavern, but it's been in this location, under Michigan Avenue since 1964.

"All you have to do is look around," regular customer Bob "Mookie" Milhizer says. "I don't think anything has changed in the 40 years that I've been coming here and that's what makes it special."

But maybe not special enough. The Realtor Building above could be replaced by a new larger, iconic destination building on Michigan Avenue, according to what the National Association of Realtor's spokeswoman told the Chicago Tribune.

But nothing has been finalized. So, for the moment, the Billy Goat will keep serving.

"I would just hope that it would be temporary," Milhizer says. "We could deal with temporary."

After 33 years as a bartender, Jeff Magill worries what might happen to these legendary walls.

"For me, personally, it's been a kind of a long haul," he says. "For me, it's been a kind of a box seat, a moving one at that, a boxed seat on America. Every walk of life comes into this tavern from guys who sleep in cardboard boxes, to U.S. presidents."

FOX 32's Craig Wall caught up with owner Sam Sianis working at another one of the Billy Goat Taverns. He says he doesn't know what is planned but hopes to get more information on Wednesday; adding that if he has his way, nothing will change on any of the walls.

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