The ground floor of the building at 226 S Wabash Ave in Chicago has always been occupied by restaurants. The first one - The 226 Club - was established during the roaring '20s. The 226 Club held a speakeasy in its upper balcony, and it remains, to this day, to be one of the few confirmed locations where the notorious gangster Al Capone frequented. The old architecture from the secret speakeasy lounge still remains above the ceiling of the Exchequer. The escape door that led to the basement also still remains in the middle of the dining room.
Directly above the ceiling of the restaurant’s front entrance and bar area, luxurious 1920’s art deco and chandeliers have been hanging for nearly a century.
The 226 Club closed after Prohibition, and another restaurant took its place. The Wonder Bar occupied 226 S Wabash Ave during the 1930s and 40s - the primary attraction being the elaborate bar that was located in the back of the space.
The restaurant was renamed Browns in the 1950s. It was reinvented in to a casual dining establishment with a steam table up front, hand-carved sandwiches, and peanut shells all over on the floor. At that time, the surrounding area of Chicago was famous for its musical influence. The likes of Orchestra Hall, Auditorium Theater, and The Schubert Theater attracted businesses like Lyon and Healy, Wurlitzer, Carl Fisher, Rockola Juke Box, American Music World, and Frank’s Drum Shop.
The Wonder Bar - 1930s
Brown's shut their doors in early 1969, and in September of that same year, the restaurant reopened as the Exchequer Pub. The name "Exchequer" comes from the treasurer of England - the restaurant was originally modeled after an old English pub while also being located in the financial district of downtown Chicago. The menu was limited at first, but the main feature was Exchequer Deep Dish Pizza. The pizza was an instant favorite, and has become one of the signature items offered to this day. The Mannos family, the restaurant’s current owners, took over ownership of Exchequer in March of 1982. Since then, it has become a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and the pizza is still famous throughout the city.
The Mannos Brothers
(Tom, George, Steve, and Jimmy)