The Berghoff is a rarity in America’s restaurant industry—100% family-owned and -operated for more than a century.
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—Herman opened his own brewery in Indiana.
When the World’s Fair came to Chicago in 1893, Herman 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 its 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 post-Prohibition 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. In March of 2020 due to the statewide mandated Covid-19 shutdown, the Cafe closed it’s doors. A reopen date has not yet been determined, but is available for private events, happy hours, and luncheons.
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 chef Matt Reichel continues to adapt and create for to today’s palate. Gluten-free friendly 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.
Berghoff Cafe at O’Hare
For more than two decades, Berghoff Cafe O’Hare has been serving travelers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With a mix of offerings of traditional hand-carved sandwiches and contemporary items, all available for either dine-in or to-go. With a full-service bar, ample seating, and aerial views, we are a must-visit for those traveling through Terminal 1.
Adams Street Brewery
In 2018, The Berghoff Restaurant paid homage to its roots by bringing the art of brewing beer in-house and opening a craft beer brewery. Adams Street Brewery is a brand new 15 barrel brewery, located in not only the heart of the Loop but the heart of The Berghoff Restaurant. The brewery is owned and operated by third and fourth generation Berghoffs. You can find a wide variety of styles available on draft, ranging from classic German lagers to IPA’s and rotating specialties. Adams Street beer is available in pints, liter steins, flights, and even 19.2 Royal Pint crowlers to-go.
The Berghoff Restaurant closed their doors in March of 2020 after the initial statewide shut down of all bars and restaurants and briefly re-opened on June 30th, 2020. Due to little to no foot traffic in the Loop, The Berghoff and Adams Street closed their dining rooms for the time being.
Adams Street Brewery occasionally hosted online beer promotions, allowing guests to order and enjoy their favorite beers to-go.
After over fifteen months of remaining closed due to the pandemic, The Berghoff Restaurant and Adams Street Brewery reopened on July 12th, 2021. While resuming normal levels of business has varied in the past year, the overwhelming support of regulars, tourists, and generational diners have been a constant bright spot within the restaurant.