The rumors that Golden Steer Steakhouse restaurant, 7635 Roosevelt Rd., is closing aren’t true – but a change is afoot for the iconic Forest Park staple.
In an e-mail to the Review, co-owner Kiriakos “Charlie” A. Tzouras said he and his cousin and fellow co-owner, Gus Tzouras, are ready to retire. They didn’t want to close the restaurant, a Forest Park institution since 1969, so they decided to put it up for sale. Tzouras didn’t elaborate on where the sale stands, but he wrote that, once it’s complete, he was looking forward to spending time with the family.
The building had a long, colorful history tied into multiple family traditions. It originally opened in 1934 as the Irish West Side Bar. Abraham Lincoln Hopkins, a son of an Irish immigrant, opened it with his brother-in-law, Thomas Hodge. The bar closed after Hopkins passed away in 1945, but his descendants still gather at the Golden Steer for family reunions and events.
In the 1950s, the building was home to the Pink Clock bar, which is currently best remembered as mobster Sam Giancana’s hideaway.
The current steakhouse incarnation owes its existence to John Vlahos, a Greek immigrant who worked his way up in the food industry after coming to United States in 1955 at the age of 16. He opened the Golden Steer because he wanted to own his own business. In 1979, Vlahos sold the restaurant to his brother, Taki Vlahos, who kept operating the restaurant until 1997.
That is when Tzouras and his cousin, Kiriakos P. Tzouras, bought the Golden Steer. Like Vlahos before them, they were Greek immigrants who worked their way up through the Chicago area restaurant industry. When P. Tzouras passed away on July 19, 2011, his brother, Gus Tzouras, took over his share.
In over five decades, Golden Steer hasn’t significantly tinkered with the formula, preserving much of the interior and maintaining a similar Americana classic dinner menu. It includes a wide variety of sandwiches, soups and steak and chicken meals, as well as “Taki’s specialties” – the previous owner’s favorite dishes. It also sports a “vegetarian delight pasta meal with broccoli, mushrooms, fresh garlic, parmesan cheese, and olive oil.”
The Steer had a number of famous regulars over the years, including actress Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita and former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson. It has also been one of the go-to hangouts for local politicians – a tradition that endures to this day. Mayoral candidate John Doss held his election night party there just last week.
Golden Steer gained some regional recognition in 2010, when it was featured on WTTW’s popular “Check, Please” program. In May 2012, it was featured on WGN Channel 9’s “Chicago’s Best” show.
Tzouras told the Review that, after almost three decades of running Golden Steer, he and his cousin were looking forward to retirement.
“We are both looking to spend more time with family and taking much-needed time off,” he said.