John Vlahos, the founder of the iconic Golden Steer restaurant in Forest Park, died Feb. 26, 2022. He was 82.
Mr. Vlahos was born in Sparta, Greece in 1939. In 1955, when he was 16, he came to the United States with only $40 in his pocket. He went immediately to work in the food industry. In a short amount of time he climbed the ranks of success from a dishwasher at Harvey’s, to become one of the top cooks at The Flame in Countryside.
He had the type of entrepreneurial spirit that he only wanted to work for himself, wanting to become his own boss. In 1969, Mr. Vlahos opened his first restaurant, The Golden Steer Steakhouse in Forest Park. The Steer quickly became a hot spot for steaks, chops, ribs, seafood, and its always popular French Onion soup.
During his ownership, there would be many famous faces that would dine at the Steer. From movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor (drank Jack Daniels neat), to numerous local politicians and many star Blackhawks players of that era including Stan Mikita and Denis Savard. The Steer was the place to be. Mr. Vlahos sold it to his brother after 10 years, to begin his next journey. The Golden Steer is now over 50 years old still serving up the same classics today.
Vlahos next opened Jonathan’s Steakhouse in Lombard. Later he founded a chain of sports bars called Half-Time, that athletes would frequent. Then came a crab and oyster house, named Harpoon Louis’, named after his father-in-law and a BBQ restaurant called Texas Smoke Shack. There were a couple of breakfast joints, Red Apple, which were home to the fluffiest baked omelets you could get. And finally JT’s Porch, which carried the initials of Mr. Vlahos and his wife Theresa.
Mr. Vlahos was the husband of Theresa (Barbato), father of Patricia (Peter) Brown and Sam (Justine) Vlahos. Son of the late Sotirios and the late Panagiota and son in law to the late Louis and the late Josephine Barbato. Brother to Peter/Taki Vlahos and the late Evelyn (Jim) Fuentes. Grandfather of Jonathan Brown, Future Baby Vlahos and Future Baby Brown.
Services were March 8 at Holy Apostles Greek Orthodox Church in Westchester. Interment at Queen of Heaven Catholic Cemetery.