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History

 

 

The Berghoff is a rarity in America’s restaurant industry—100% family-owned and -operated for more than a century.

It began with an immigrant and a dream…

 

The legacy can be traced back to 1870, when Herman Berghoff immigrated 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—Herman opened his own brewery in Indiana.

When the World’s Fair came to Chicago in 1893, Herman Berghoff set up a stand in what is now 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!

 
 
 
 

The Berghoff Restaurant

When Prohibition hit, Herman’s entrepreneurial mind saw it as an opportunity to expand his business as opposed to shutting down. He began brewing “near beer” and Berghoff soda pops while also expanding the food service. During the 14 years that Prohibition was in effect, The Berghoff Restaurant became widely known for deliciously authentic German fare.

 

The Berghoff Bar

When Prohibition was lifted, Herman was able to procure Chicago’s first ever liquor license, opening up The Berghoff Bar while still running the restaurant. This honor is now a yearly tradition, with the city ensuring that The Berghoff establishment always receives the city’s first liquor license. The original is proudly on display at the current Berghoff bar. The bar, when opened, served men only. It wasn’t until Gloria Steinem and several other members of the National Organization for Women demanded to be served in 1969 that the segregation ended.

 

The Berghoff Cafe

In 1939, an Annex was added beneath the restaurant, which is now The Berghoff Café.

 

A Brief Hiatus

In 2006, The Berghoff closed briefly, transitioning ownership from third generation to the fourth. By 2007, the establishment was fully reopened and is what it is today—The Berghoff Bar, Restaurant, and Café all housed in the historic, 45,000-sq. ft. building on 17 W. Adams St.

 

Relevant after 100+ years

The Berghoff’s popularity through the decades is a tribute to its consistent dedication to quality, warmth, and whimsy. The menus remain relevant as longtime chefs Matt Reichel and Javier Avalos adapt and create to today’s palate. Gluten-free options and lighter German-inspired fare, along with longstanding favorites like creamed spinach and Bavarian pretzels keep customers old and new coming in. With almost every single dish made in-house, the commitment to freshness is uncompromising. Paired with the old-world charm of the landmark building, filled with Chicago mementos and artifacts, The Berghoff has something to delight everyone who visits. 

 

A Legacy for Many

Throughout, The Berghoff has fulfilled Herman Berghoff’s ambitions of family unity and the American Dream. Staff members have been with The Berghoff for multiple generations, many for 30-50 years. And, of course, there are the generations of families who have celebrated milestones, built memories, and come together within the walls of The Berghoff for over 100 years.