A Brief History of the Milias Restaurant

By the early 1920s, a new U.S. Highway 101 ran straight through downtown Gilroy. The increased traffic brought a wave of commercial prosperity and along with it, the new Milias Hotel and Restaurant. Located opposite the City Hall, the hotel, with its first-class restaurant, became a major business anchor at Monterey and Sixth Streets.

The Milias family began in Gilroy with Yugoslavian immigrant George Milias, Sr. who by 1895 had opened the Milias Chop House. Decades later, when the new highway was completed, Milias seized the opportunity. He tore down his popular eatery, and in its place built the William Weeks-designed Milias Hotel, a three-story, 60-room Mission style structure. Off the spacious entrance lobby, the family expanded their restaurant operation with a grand double dining room.

Known as The Milias Restaurant and Steakhouse, the fine dining establishment opened on July 8, 1922. A gala dinner welcomed 1,000 guests, who dined both downstairs and in the Sun Room, a light, airy space located on the fourth floor. Dance music followed, provided by a brass band and two orchestras.

For years, Mr. and Mrs. George Milias Sr. lived in a private second floor apartment on the premises. Their son, George C. Milias, later ran the hotel for many years and served several terms as Gilroy Mayor (1940-54 and 1956-58.) His son, George W. Milias, went on to serve our district as State Assemblyman.

Known simply and affectionately for most of its life as “The Milias,” (except for the years it was renamed “Harvest Time” under new ownership,) the restaurant has remained an anchor in Gilroy’s downtown district. The popular lunchtime menu has been for decades a favorite with local businessmen and shoppers, while the unique, cowboy-motif horseshoe cocktail lounge and adjoining, spacious dining room have served generations of Gilroyans. Not to be forgotten are the rich and famous that have enjoyed The Milias, among them, comedian-humorist Will Rogers, who dined and spent the night in 1934, and actor Clark Gable, who stopped by for dinner with an unidentified blonde on two occasions in 1945.

Diners today will be delighted with the unique and friendly atmosphere at The Milias Restaurant. Surrounded by the aura and tradition of one of Gilroy’s oldest and most respected dining establishments, food lovers of today will be charmed by the presentation of fine cuisine and professional service at this old but new Gilroy landmark.

Contributed by Elizabeth Barratt