In 1950, three brothers of Greek descent, Pete, Nick and Jimmy Gallios, pooled all of their resources and purchased the flailing Miller’s Pub from the Miller brothers, who had established the bar in 1935. After the purchase, the Gallios brothers did not have the $500 it would have cost to change the sign on the pub, so the name Miller’s remained. In 1953, after finishing his military service, younger brother Vannie worked his way into a stake in the pub. The Gallios Brothers started out with one humble goal- support their growing families. So they rolled up their sleeves, went to work and never looked back. Little did they know that one day their little pub would become a beloved piece of Chicago history.
Over the years they imprinted not only their work ethic but their personalities on the pub. It became one of the most famous late-night spots Chicago had to offer, where on any night of the week an average couple out on-the-town might find Marilyn Monroe or Mayor Daley in the booth next to them. Chicago baseball legends Bill Veeck and Harry Caray were regular customers and became lifelong friends of the family. Jimmy Durante never came to town without stopping by for some figs & cream- he didn’t drink. Bob Fosse’s dancers spent many post-show evenings- that lasted into mornings- at the back of the bar.
Celebrities, however, were only a small part of Miller’s. The brothers worked hard to create an atmosphere that was not only friendly and bustling, but one where anyone who had been there more than once found out there was a good chance they would be recognized not only at the front-door but by their server as well. The servers at Miller’s became a loyal group- as much a part of the family as the brothers themselves.
Miller’s Pub continued to flourish and by 1972 the brothers owned three restaurants on the Adams/Wabash block with Miller’s as the focal point of the family business. In 1989, when the building they were renting was renovated to seat cars rather than people, Miller’s Pub moved into one of their other restaurants, Vannie’s, at 134 S. Wabash and continued their business without batting an eye.
At 134 S. Wabash, where it remains today, the Gallios’ continue to make their B.B.Q. Canadian Baby Back Ribs succulent and tasty, and their customers happy. Every day thousands of customers come to the multi-level 270 seat restaurant and bar to enjoy the extensive menu, honest prices, and friendly service amidst cozy dark wood and stained glass. You can still find veteran servers, bartenders and cooks catering to the customer’s every need, cheerfully and efficiently.
Over the years there have been a few changes to the decor, but the hundreds of signed celebrity photos from icons such as Frank Sinatra and Dick the Bruiser and the antique oil paintings that Jimmy acquired throughout the years still adorn almost every free inch of wall space. Some of the faces have changed and sadly only one of the brothers, Vannie, still works daily- the other three having passed away. But their children have taken the torch and work as tirelessly as their fathers to maintain the family legacy and carry on the Miller’s tradition.
As a Wall Street Journal writer said in an article from December 5, 2003, “At the bar the atmosphere is a bit like an episode from Cheer’s. Everybody but me knew the bartender’s name and that he was about to go on vacation…. Miller’s is my idea of unself-conscious perfection.” Thanks for coming and enjoy!
— The Gallios Family