When the Review asked Elba Caragher why she’s buying the Golden Steer steakhouse, there was one thing she wanted to make clear up front.
“Nothing is changing,” she said. “Everything will stay the same. Nothing is broken.”
Caragher was just as straight in answering the question.
“I’ve been working there for 23 years,” she said. “For 23 years, it’s been my family. I didn’t want to lose that.”
Last spring, rumors circulated that Golden Steer was closing for good. At the time, owner Kiriakos “Charlie” A. Tzouras told the Review that he and his cousin, Gus Tzouras, wanted to retire but didn’t want Golden Steer to close if they could help it. Caragher said that the sale was contingent on several legal steps, including getting the liquor license. The village council approved the license transfer at their Sept. 26 meeting.
Caragher said she is buying the restaurant and the building. She hopes to complete the deal by early October and intends to keep the current employees, drawing upon over two decades of experience in running the steakhouse.
“It’s home, basically,” she reflected.
After the meeting concluded, interim Village Administrator Rachell Entler told Caragher the village wanted to see her succeed and invited her to contact the village if she is facing any legal hurdles.
The building at 7635 Roosevelt Road has a long, colorful history tied to multiple families. It originally opened in 1934 as the Irish West Side Bar. Abraham Lincoln Hopkins, the 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 the U.S. in 1955 at the age of 16. He opened Golden Steer because he wanted to own his own business. In 1979, Vlahos sold the restaurant to his brother, Taki Vlahos, who operated the restaurant until 1997.
Then Tzouras and his cousin, Kiriakos P. Tzouras, bought the business. Like Vlahos before them, they were Greek immigrants who worked their way up through the Chicago-area restaurants.
In over five decades, Golden Steer hasn’t significantly tinkered with the formula, preserving much of the interior and maintaining a similar American classic dinner menu, which 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 hosted a number of famous diners 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. Most recently, mayoral candidate Doss held his 2023 election party there.