Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray Are on Opposite Sides of SNL ‘Olympia Café’ Origin Story Debate

In its 50 year history, few sketches are as steeped in SNL lore as The Olympia Café.

First performed on the show in January 1978, it recurred six times over a fifteen month period, forever burning the phrases “No Coke, Pepsi” and “cheeburger, cheeburger, cheeburger” into the 70s-era zeitgeist.

But while its legacy as one of the SNL’s most classic recurring sketches is uncontested, the origins of the sketch itself are… well, murky.

SNL writer Don Novello, who wrote the first Olympia Café sketch, has long contended that it was based on the real-life Billy Goat Tavern on Lower North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, which Novello frequented when he lived in the second city in the 60s and 70s.

The Billy Goat has fully embraced Novello’s story, and indeed to this day, a visit to the restaurant feels a lot like stepping into the SNL sketch, complete with chants of “cheeburger” whenever a customer orders one.

But not everyone agrees that Olympia Café was inspired by The Billy Goat.

Jim Belushi (brother of John Belushi, who starred in the sketch) says the sketch was his brother John’s idea–and that it was inspired by the cheeseburger restaurant that their father owned, also in Chicago, called “The Olympia Restaurant.”

It’s not just Novello and Belushi who disagree.

While promoting their new film Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire in an interview with CBS Mornings, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd found themselves on opposite sides of the argument.

“That was based on John Belushi’s father’s diner in Illinois,” explained Aykroyd. “Adam Belushi had a diner. So, that was derived directly from Belushi’s experience as a chef and a waiter.”

“It wasn’t The Billy Goat Tavern?” asked CBS’ Vladimir Duthiers.

“No, no. It was not, no… they claim it is,” Aykroyd responded. “That whole thing about Coke and Pepsi, that’s what Adam would say.”

“Well, I heard it the other way around,” interjected Murray. who pointed out that it was Don Novello wrote the sketch.

Whether it’s one, the other, or some combination of both, ultimately Aykroyd agreed with Murray when he said “you can no longer get a cheeseburger at old man Belushi’s place, but you can still get one at The Billy Goat.”

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *