Classic Big Top diner closes doors
by BRIAN NADIG
The old-fashioned Big Top Restaurant near Higgins and Nagle avenues in Norwood Park closed its doors Tuesday, May 14.
The diner served generations of Northwest Side families who were often greeted at the entrance by owner John Papahronis. A posting at the neighborhood greasy spoon, located at 6348 W. Higgins Ave., states that the owner decided to retire due to an illness in the family.
“Words can’t express the deep gratitude that everyone here at the Big Top feels toward our customers, staff, neighborhood and community. For the past 43 years, you’ve made it a truly special place to operate a family business … sincerely, the Papahronis family,” the note on the window said.
“We never had a bad meal there, and it was nice to be greeted by John. If you wanted breakfast, you go to Big Top,” customer Jim Oehler said. “Around us there are not a lot of Greek-style restaurants.”
Taft High School principal Mark Grishaber said that Papahronis always posted fliers about school events in the window and that Big Top was his go-to place for informal meetings with alumni and others, often eating there four times a week.
“I knew the whole menu,” Grishaber said. “The Monday special was goulash. Everybody in the neighborhood knew you’d have to get there before 5 p.m. before they run out.”
Big Top’s menu included standard American fare, ice cream creations, salads, fajitas and a variety of chicken, Grecian and seafood specialties.