Okay, today I’m meeting some friends at Mike’s Tavern in West Peoria. Mike’s was the last stop on my 365 bar crawl last year and was my Grandpa Seitz’ preferred watering hole for his entire life. It’s going to be a bit of a bittersweet trip, as the owner, Tony Ward died somewhat unexpectedly a little bit ago. But I think he’d be happy to know that we all picked Mike’s Tavern to meet and have a few holiday drinks to celebrate the past, present and future.
And here we are, Mike's Tavern. The great thing is that this place never changes.
Let's step inside and see what's happening at Mike's.
And here's the familiar bar and I spy a familiar face behind it.
It's Tom the bartender serving up an ice-cold can of Miller Lite in honor of Biff.
Here's Roy, Tony's son-in-law who is helping to run Mike's these days.
This has been hanging behind the bar for as long as I can remember.
The infamous two-doorknob bathroom!
Here's a framed metallic tribute to Tony that was written by my friend Phil Luciano in the Peoria Journal Star.
And speaking of Phil, here he is pulling a Gene Simmons imitation with his beautiful fiancée, Karen. Now the party can begin!
Phil told me that originally this place was a barbershop for a brief time and these are the original tin tiles on the ceiling. The design is made up of circled shaving brushes. Very cool.
And if you want to have a seat in Mike's, here's some school desks to rest at. I think my Grandpa Seitz sat at the third one from the right. But only when he misbehaved in here. Which was often, from the stories I've heard.
I notice something while glancing back at the bar.
Butch's pizza! I haven't had one the whole trip, time to fix that...
I got one with everything and Tom cooked it to perfection. One thing happens when you put out a Butch's pie...
A crowd will show up. And here they are, from left: Moon, Webby, Joe Waugh and George Voorhees, who's shoes I scuffed years ago and he still harbors a grudge. (Not pictured are Homer and Erica, who trust Julie's version of the ending of Midnight Cowboy. Oh, they will be proven wrong!)
And here's the guest star of honor, the founder and guiding light of Waugh Foods, Joe Waugh, Sr. with his son, Joe Waugh, Jr. Thanks to everybody for showing up and sharing memories and stories from the past and present!
And of course we must end this with a toast to Tony Ward: To Tony, you're greatly missed! R.I.P.