Let's Go Back to the Beginning
226 South Wabash Ave in Chicago has always been occupied by restaurants. The first one - The 226 Club - was established during the roaring 20s. Rumor has it that the restaurant was a speakeasy patronized by notorious gangster Al Capone. The old architecture from the secret lounge, which was originally located upstairs, 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.
The old architecture from the 226 Club still exists today. 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.
During the 30s and 40s, the restaurant was renamed The Wonder Bar. The focus was, as its name suggests, on the elaborate bar that was located in the back. The restaurant was renamed Browns in the 1950s, and 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 area 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. In 1969, Browns was closed and the restaurant was completely remodeled again.
The Wonder Bar (1930's)