Restaurant Owner Finds Box Hidden In 'Secret' Vault Linked to Al Capone

April 12, 2019

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Part of the mystery has been solved over a bricked-in vault in the basement of a building once owned by an enforcer for mobster Al Capone.

The vault is in the building housing Harry Caray's Restaurant in the River North area. Owner Grant DePorter said he used an endoscope, typically used for viewing organs in the body, to peer into the vault in the building once owned by mob enforcer Frank Nitti.

A video shows a box that, DePorter said, is not big enough for a body.

"I didn't want a crime scene. I feel comfortable it's not big enough for that. It does look big enough, you know back then, they worked with $1,000 bills, so it does look like it's big enough to have some significant money in it, potentially," he said.

When a bricked-over doorway was recently found in the basement of the building constructed in 1895, DePorter said the Chicago History Museum was helpful in finding building plans for a time when Nitti owned it.

The plans show the area is a "vault", thus sparking mystery and speculation over what may be in it.


Secret Vault found at Harry Caray's Restaurant
Courtesy of Grant DePorter, owner of Harry Caray's Restaurant


In a couple of weeks, DePorter said he plans to try to use the endoscope and a drill to take a peek inside the box before taking efforts to remove any of the brick wall to get at the box.

"I know that I have to be careful and, if I drill into it, I want to make sure I'm drilling the right spot so I don't drill straight into the box and tear up the money," he said.

He plans to have descendants of Frank Nitti on hand when he does that.

DePorter said he's hired attorney Andrew McGann to investigate any possible ownership issues that may have to be dealt with should something valuable be found in the box. He said he had promised he would split any money found with his business partners and with relatives of Nitti. DePorter said his partners include former Cubs star Ryne Sandberg, former NFL coach Marv Levy, and broadcaster Bob Costas.


Secret Vault at Harry Caray's Restaurant
courtesy of Grant DePorter, owner of Harry Caray's Restaurant


DePorter said he also has to be careful when trying to get at the box, that the area appeared to be crumbling even when using the endoscope.

"It was kind of like Raiders of the Lost Ark. Once I took the picture or the video, the wire touched the wall and a lot of rubble fell on top of the box," DePorter said.

DePorter said he has shared some times with Frank Nitti's relatives and heard some stories from those mobster days of long ago. For instance, he said he's been told of Nitti's family compound in Michigan which included a pond that would have stopped law enforcement from gaining entrance, escape tunnels underneath the pond, incinerators and dog track runs to train dogs for illegal dog races.