Chicago’s oldest restaurant celebrating 123 years of Christmas traditions

Chicago Scene

CHICAGO — A Chicago Christmas tradition lives on at The Berghoff in Chicago’s Loop. Operating for more than 123 years. Chicago’s oldest restaurant is still 100% family-owned and has been since the era of the Chicago’s World Fair of 1893.

The legacy can be traced back to 1870, when Herman Berghoff emigrated from Germany to America. After stints working on cotton and sugar cane plantations—and even time spent performing at Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show—Berghoff opened his own brewery in Indiana.

When the World’s Fair came to Chicago in 1893, Berghoff set up a stand in the Midway Plaisance and sold his beers to people entering and exiting the fair. His success at the fair prompted him to consider a more permanent place to sell his beer in Chicago. Thus, The Berghoff opened doors in 1898. Beers were sold for a nickel and they came with a side sandwich, free!

Satna at the Burghoff

“We’re open again, we were closed for 16 months due to the pandemic, ” owner Pete Berghoff said. “We’re ready for you to come down and see us, Christmas time is a memorable time, we can have generations at one table, it’s a time of happiness, the Loop is ready for visitation and so are we.”

The holiday season at the Berghoff is where many of Chicago’s families traditions were born.

Complete with Santa visits, the Berghoff celebrates the Bavarian traditions known as Die Weihnachtsgurke. (hiding the little pickle ornaments throughout the Christmas trees in the restaurant). Those young at heart who finds the pickle will not only receive good luck for a year but can also order our Famous Berghoff Root Beer for $1.00. That one dollar will be directly donated to benefit the foster children of the SOS Villages of Illinois. To learn more, please visit sosillinois.org.

The Berghoff circa 1920s

For a list of Santa visits and other Berghoff history and reservation information, click here.

For more Chicago Scene fun, follow @tomwgnchicago on Instagram.

Delivery of goods at the Berghoff

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