15 May 1934
A GROCERY STORE TRANSFORMS
Corruption is often synonymous with Chicago's past. During Prohibition, local spots transformed into speakeasies. In the Shakespeare District just off of Cortland and Winchester, a woman turned a neighborhood grocery store and bar into a full-service tavern --- rumored to also be the home of a private speakeasy below the bar and grocery store.
1 Jun 1934
LOTTIE ZAGORSKI: NEIGHBORHOOD LEGEND
Standing at 6-feet-tall, Lottie Zagorski was an intimidating figure amid residents in the Shakespeare District. She ran Zagorski's grocery store and bar and opened her basement as a rathskellar. Many speculated the basement was a speakeasy, but Zagorski's charm and involvement in the neighborhood left people with nothing but respect for the storeowner. Zagorski was often seen handing out dollars to local children and keeping patrons in line when things got out of hand.
1 Nov 1936
POLITICS AND GANGSTERS
Zagorski's soon became a place of anonymity for public officials and gangsters. The rathskellar was a concealed spot where horsebetting, gambling, stripping and plenty of other vices thrived. Photo/Lottie's PubBackdoor deals between city officials and mobsters were also a daily occurrence at this neighborhood spot. Zagorski's rathskellar became an escape from Mayor Kelly's fight on crime.
4 Dec 1967
THE BACKROOM REVEALED
In 1966 as part of a city and nationwide effort to cut down crime activity, Lottie Zagorski is first arrested for possession of gambling paraphernalia. Zagorski becoming infamously known for running a gambling ring in her rathskellar along with mob-linked Andy "The Greek" Lochious. In 1967 the Federal Bureau and IRS bring down Zagorski after a raid that discovers over 10,000 football parlay cards, racehorse bet slips, scratch sheets as well as 16-gauge shotguns.
1 Oct 1973
THE END OF AN ERA: ZAGORSKI TESTIFIES AND DIES OF NATURAL CAUSES
Domitrovich noted many have stopped by over the years to share stories of Zagorski's fall from grace. One visitor was the cop who arrested Zagorski the day of the raid in 1966. "The day that he brought her in, he went back to the station and within hours received dozens of calls from politicians and businessmen," said Domitrovich. "All of which were saying, 'you can't touch Lottie, what do you think you're doing?'"Zagorski died of natural causes following her testimony before the grand jury.
10 Aug 1986
LONGSTANDING SPOT: THE BAR SURVIVES
Undergoing a series of new owners over the next few decades, Zagorski's Rathskellars is memorialized when the bar is renamed Lottie's Pub in 1986. "The same spirit of the place as a local spot remained over the years," said Domitrovich, who purchased the bar in 2001. "When I bought it I knew it had character." A character that Domitrovich said originates from the namesake of the place.
13 Jan 2004
In January of 2004, the owners renovated the basement and unearthed a collection of bones. Rumors of who's bones belong to flooded the area and throughout media. Helicopters hovered above reporting on the scene. "It was a trip," Domitrovich said. "People really thought it could be someone from the days of Lottie." The notion that it could've been a mobster only further proves the importance of Lottie's Pub as a part of Chicago's corrupt, mysterious past.
15 May 2009
75 YEARS IN MAKING CHICAGO HISTORY
75 years later and the bar still channels the spirit of Lottie Zagorski's rathskellar. Charming lights hover above a worn bar replete with the original coolers from the days of Lottie's grocery store. "It's pretty unreal to hear some of the stories that come through here," manager Mike Moyse said. "I've worked here a long time and you'd be surprised at some of the people - even politicians - that stop by to remember this place."
31 Oct 2010
THE LEGACY CONTINUES
76 years later on Halloween, the bar continues to carry the spirit of its past. With a blend of old-timers sitting at the bar looking to share a story and a younger crowd looking to make their own stories, the bar acts as a meeting place for all generations.
HONORABLE MENTION WITH COORS
An iconic Chicago watering hole on the city’s near northwest side since 1934, Lotties Pub has been singled out by the Coors Brewing Co. as one of the two best bars in the nation for drinkers who thirst for a Coors Banquet.
Coors went to great effort to determine the two winners – the second being Morrison Holiday Bar in Morrison, CO. The brewery gathered input from thousands of beer drinkers and company employees — asking them to identify places that evoke the true spirit of the 140-year-old Coors Banquet brand.
Noted Pete Coors, chairman of Coors Brewing’s parent Chicago-based MillerCoors: “These establishments truly personify our shared principles of heritage, hard work and unwavering values.” Coors executives said Lotties is a good example of “an old neighborhood tavern that’s always been there for its patrons.”