CHICAGO (CBS) — In 1973, Michael Gorman was in town from Grand Rapids, Michigan. He sat at the bar for a drink at Miller’s Pub and never left.
“I started quite by accident. I was sitting at the bar with a friend having a drink one day, and the bartender over heard me talking to my friend that I was looking for a job, he went and got the manager and I started that night,” laughed Gorman who will pour his last drink next Friday, March 10th. WBBM’s Lisa Fielding reports.
“I remember like it was yesterday. One of my bartenders called in sick that day so I hired Mike,” said Peter Orfanos, Manager, Miller’s Pub. “I said you want to start now. I gave him a vest, I put him behind the bar, and he’s still here. It’s the best thing I ever did.”
43 years later, he’s seen his share of Chicago history and a few famous faces along the way.
“The Empire Room in the Palmer House next door used to have live entertainment and Liza Minnelli, she became sort of a regular. Every time she came in, she just lit up the place,” he recalled.
From Bill Veck, to Harry Caray, Gorman said Miller’s is known for its celebrity guests, but he said the regular folks are the people who are most special to him.
“The famous people are not the interesting ones. It’s the average people. I have a few regulars that were regulars when I started 43 years ago and they’re still here.”
To his customers, he’s a staple behind the bar.
“I’ve been coming here since 1978 and Mike’s always here,” said Tony Madia, Chicago.
“Sandra Bullock was here several years ago. She shot a movie in here and I was the bartender in the scene. I was in the movie “The Lake House,” Gorman said.
He has seen thousands of tourists come through over the years, all looking for some advice and some guidance about Chicago.
“A bartender is really an ambassador, as well as making drinks not only for the restaurant but for the city. So many tourists come through and you get to talk to him. All of them are all so impressed with the city and the people in it. That’s my favorite part of the job.”
But after more than four decades, Gorman is retiring.
“You just sort of know when it’s time,” he said.
“I thought I’d retire before he did,” laughed Orfanos.
He strategically planned his exit ahead of the biggest day of the year.
“I’m leaving the day before the big St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It gets wild in here. I’ve done 43 of them, that’s enough for me,” he laughed.
Gorman said he’ll miss the people most of all but won’t miss being on his feet all day.
“It’s a lot of work but I’m ready for the next chapter. It’s very bittersweet, but I have no regrets.”