and has been a family owned restaurant since 1918.
The original owner of Daley’s Restaurant was a young Irish ironworker, named John Daley (no relation to former Mayor Daley), who immigrated to the United States to work on the constuction of the elevated railroad line. By 1892, the University of Chicago, The World’s Columbian Exposition, and the Rapid Transit Line were all under construction and young John Daley saw the need for a food facility to feed construction workers. Daley was quick to recognize that it was better running a restaurant than swinging from I-beams in the cold Chicago winds. He chose an empty store at 809 East 63rd Street for his “temporary” workers diner. It soon became Daley’s Restaurant.
Daley prospered and invested well and by 1918 he sold Daley’s Restaurant to two young Greek immigrants: Tom Kyros and Paul Emmanuel (no relation to former Mayor). Tom was a waiter and Paul was a cook. They came to this country to live the “American Dream.”
Kyros and Emmanuel worked well together and Daley’s continued to prosper. By 1932, they decided it was time to replace the building frame that housed Daley’s with something more sturdy. They carefully arranged financing at the Washington Park National Bank, also at 63rd and Cottage Grove. Contractors quickly demolished the old building and dug for the foundation of the new building. However, the bank failed in the middle of construction. Tom and Paul lost it all and Daley’s was nothing but a hole in the ground until 1937.
Kyros went to work for Deppie Baking Co. as a driver and Emmanuel worked as a night cook at Power’s Cafeteria. By 1937, they had saved and borrowed enough to rebuild Daley’s. It reopened as New Daley’s Restaurant and was an instant success. It had only 16 stools and 7 booths. To compensate for size, they stayed open around the clock and it became a favorite meeting place for celebrities of the time.
Paul Emmanuel retired in 1960 and moved back to Greece. He was replaced by Tom’s son, George Kyros. Father and son worked well together and through a series of remodeling and expansions they brought Daley’s back to its original size. During the 60’s Muhammad Ali, among others, frequently ate at Daley’s between training sessions at any one of many local gyms.
In 1965, after 47 years at the helm, Tom Kyros retired. He was replaced by his nephew, George Politakis who had worked at Daley’s since 1955. The two Georges worked hard and successfully guided Daley’s through some of the worst years in Woodlawn’s history.
In 1990, George Politakis retired and his cousin, Nick Zee, took over. Kyros and Zee worked well together and Daley’s continues to improve and prosper.
In 1995, George Kyros retired and a family friend, Alex Vlahos (no relation) stepped in and along with Zee made many improvements at Daley’s as the restaurant continued to prosper as the friends worked well together.
In 2005, Alex announces retirement and is replaced by Nick’s son, Michael Zee, who began working at Daley’s at the early age of 15.
One hundred years after immigrants from Greece with nothing but a dream purchased a restaurant, an opportunity to expand and ensure its survival into the future comes along. Construction begins in a new development directly across the street where Daley’s will make their new and improved home – continuing to serve Woodlawn into the next century.