‘Blessed every day’: Gus Anagnostopoulos living his dream at Wrigley Field
If you’ve ever enjoyed a hot dog at Wrigley Field or a cold beverage at a concert on Gallagher Way, then you can probably thank Gus Anagnostopoulos.
Since joining the Cubs’ hospitality partner, Levy Restaurants, in 2011, Gus has simply been the guy that gets things done.
From overseeing the Captain Morgan Club to his current role in charge of food and beverage operations for Gallagher Way and the Wrigley Field Wintrust Bar, Gus is living the dream working at a ballpark he grew up attending.
“I grew up on the northwest side of Chicago, a lifelong Cubs fan, and attended my first Cubs game when I was three years old,” says Gus. “So I’ve watched my share of bad teams but also obviously some really good teams, and it’s just a blessing to work here. Besides my daughter and wife, this job and working here is by far the second-best thing I’ve done. When I come here, it’s special.”
But ask any coworker about Gus and they’ll say that what’s really special is the opportunity to work with Gus.
“He always thinks about everybody else first, thinks about himself last, making sure everybody is healthy, happy and safe,” says Jeff Denlea, Levy’s Vice President of Hospitality Strategy. “Anything you need, he’ll make a call. His whole life is about family first, and he treats his coworkers like family as well.”
Five years ago this May, Gus was diagnosed with ALS after more than 18 months of reporting symptoms.
“I used to run marathons all the time and was very healthy but at some point I just started tripping and falling more often,” says Gus. “I figured something must be wrong and that was six years ago … so when I was finally told in 2017 [it’s ALS], I just said, ‘great’ and asked what’s next. The doctor said there’s no cure and a 2-5 year life expectancy. I looked at the doctor and said, ‘I’m going to beat that, I’m going to live until 80, so that’s my goal.”
Gus, now 52, has made the best of his diagnosis – continuing to work as hard as ever with the aid of a walker to help when needed, working nearly every Cubs game, including even a doubleheader earlier this week. While he’s had to make some adjustments in the way he approaches his day-to-day job, it’s a change that he’s embraced.
“In my first couple years, I was probably more active and running around, doing things hands on myself, but now I focus more on managing people and am a better mentor,” says Gus. “In a weird way, the disease has made me sit down and focus more on what’s important.”
His commitment to the company has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.
“He holds so close to his chest the importance of company culture, embracing a ‘one best team’ mentality,” says Denlea. “I’ll never forget when he told me he was diagnosed and the first thing he said was that he didn’t want to be treated any differently.”
Gus is committed to raising awareness for ALS, while also striving every day to make sure that ALS does not define who he is in any way.
“You just can’t let it define you, don’t let it take over,” says Gus. “Can I still run a marathon? No. But can I spend time with my daughter? Absolutely. You just have to shift your priorities.”
For his coworkers and friends around the ballpark, the only thing that defines Gus is his relentlessly hard work and commitment to making life better for those around him.
Cubs Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Colin Faulkner joined the organization in 2010 and has seen firsthand the impact Gus has had during one of the most significant periods in the ballpark’s history with the introduction of new club and bar spaces and the year-round activities at Gallagher Way.
“Gus is just an institution here; he’s part of the fabric of Wrigley Field and will continue to be,” said Faulkner. “He has such an incredible positive attitude and work ethic, and he means so much to the people who work here, and our fans.”
Gus is grateful for the support of his coworkers and partners at Levy and the Cubs.
“Tom Ricketts and Crane Kenney – those guys are just legit good guys. I know they’re ‘the bosses’ but they, and everyone over there, they’ll pull me aside and check in on me. But most importantly, they don’t treat me differently than anyone else and I never want to have a cop out.”
While Gus may have caught a “bad break,” as Lou Gehrig famously uttered in 1939, he can only focus on the many positives that make up his life, including his wife, Megan, and 1.5-year-old daughter, Georgia.
“I feel blessed every day to have so many great things in my life – my amazing job, my amazing wife, my beautiful baby girl. She [Georgia] keeps me going,” says Gus. “Everyone complains that it’s a lot of work, but I love it.
“I put life in buckets and categories. Some people are super rich and not happy. Others are gifted in certain aspects but not as much in others. For me, I’ve had incredible family, an amazing job and I feel like I’ve lived 10 lifetimes already and I’m only 52 years old. So, I don’t find myself unlucky. Does this disease suck? Yes. But there’s so much more to my story than having ALS.”
For more on Gus, tune-in to ‘Cubs Live!’ beginning at 6 PM on Thursday, June 2 as Jon “Boog” Sciambi sits down with Gus to talk about his ALS journey, and catch the full game broadcast that evening as Marquee Sports Network honors Lou Gehrig’s legacy with a special broadcast dedicated to raising money and awareness to fight ALS and find a cure.