LET’S GO BACK TO THE BEGINNINg
226 South Wabash Ave in Chicago has historically been occupied by restaurants. The first restaurant was established during the roaring ’20s - called the 226 Club. Rumor has it that the restaurant was a “speak-easy” in those days, patronized by none other than Al Capone. After all, Big Al lived just a few blocks south. There are still remains of the old speakeasy which was originally located upstairs. The escape door that Al Capone and the gang used to escape also 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 located in the back. In the ’50s and ’60s the restaurant was then renamed Browns. It was reinvented as a casual dining establishment with a steam table up front, hand-carved sandwiches, and peanut shells 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)