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Mike's Tavern and Jerry's Bar

Okay, last week was my dad’s 83rd birthday, so I traveled back to celebrate it with my family and friends in Peoria. And whenever I return to Peoria I have to stop at my favorite bar in the world, Mike’s Tavern. For those of you who followed my 365 Bars blog, you’ll remember that Mike’s was the last stop on that year long tour. And so now, let’s take a trip to Mike’s and then we’ll have Happy Hour at the infamous Jerry’s Bar, hosted by the birthday boy himself, Jerry Wombacher.

And here we are at Mike's, always great to stop in here!

It's like taking a step back in time when you visit Mike's in West Peoria.

And here's the pretty and friendly bartender Jessica serving up an ice-cold can of Budweiser. Ah, it's nice to be back here!

Bags of Kitchen Cooked potato chips hang directly uner the tin ceiling.

I love that Busch Beer sign. Head for the mountains!

A shot of the well-worn bar at Mike's. If that bar could talk, it would probably slur its words.

You've gotta love the school desk's lined up behind the bar!

There's a tribute to Tony Ward, who owned Mike's for decades. R.I.P. Tony.

A picture of Tony hangs on the wall, surrounded by friends.

And here's the next generation running the bar. Tony's son-in-law, Roy and his wife Shannon, Tony's daughter, now run Mike's. Roy told me the bar is definitely staying open, which is great news!

Roy said they recently found some old pictures of Mike's in the backroom, and that my Grandpa Leo Seitz was in a couple of them. My grandpa was a regular at Mike's for as long as I can remember.

And there he is, sitting at one of the desks! Too cool!

I love the caption on this one! Cheers to my Grandpa Seitz!

Here's two guest stars, my friends Phil and Karen Luciano, who just got married this year! Great to see both of them on my trip home. Congratulations to both of them for getting married. And check out the vintage Scorpions t-shirt on Phil. It rocks you like a...well, you know.

Jessica in action, behind the bar.

One of my favorite things in Mike's is the Little Nut Hut.

Dave Schwindenhammer shows off the world's longest phone cord at the bar.

Okay, now that we've had a few afternoon brews, time for Happy Hour at Jerry's Bar. Hmm, "Drugs available under the bar," I'll have to check that out!

The stairway to Jerry's Bar. Somebody queue up the Foo Fighters already!

And there it is, a bar I remember from my wild youth. Hey, speaking of my wild youth, let's check out the drugs under the bar.

I think I see something over there...

Aleve, Bayer and Centrum Silver vitamins. Hmmm...I seem to remember different drugs available in the '70's and '80's at Jerry's Bar, but I won't get into that, I may have prospective employers looking at this thing!

Here's the hosts of Jerry's Bar, Anne and Gerry Wombacher! They're always quick with a drink and a smile.

The crowd is growing at Jerry's, from left, my brother Tom, my mom, Anne, my niece (Tom's daughter) Caylin and my dad, Jerry. It's my dad's birthday and we're having a few drinks before his birthday dinner. Tom works in sales at Lexus of Peoria, if you're looking for a great deal, stop or give him a call. Even if you don't live in Peoria, you can buy a car there, via the internet. (Marty's note to Tom: I'll just send you a bill for that ad, Tom.)

Official, Jerry's Bar coasters line the bar, along with one of my beers.

As you can see, the beers have caught up with me. Time for a little nap before dinner.

Here we are in downtown Peoria on a Sunday night. As you can see, it's a hotbed of activity down here!

My mom stands in front of our dinner destination, Jim's Steakhouse. This place is one of the best restaurants in Peoria.

Here's the whole crowd, that's my sister Terry and her husband Phil up front. My dad and Caylin and Tom are behind them and at the end of the table are my niece, Mary Beth, her boyfriend, Matt and my nephew, Greg. My mom and I aren't seen in the picture, perhaps because we were passed out under the table, but I'll never tell!

It's the birthday boy with a Turtle pie, he's 83-years-old!

And here's some of his gifts, just waiting to be unwrapped.

Caylin watches as Jerry starts digging in to the gifts.

A sweater!

And here's my gift, it's a little hard to read, but it's a bottle of, "Maybe You Touched Your Genitals," hand sanitizer. Tears came to my dad's eyes as he opened this up, either out of joy or because my sense of humor has never matured past a 13-year-old wiseass. It was great to see everyone on my trip and I had a great time. And happy birthday to the best dad in the whole wide world!

 Further Reading: Phil Luciano, 365 Bars and MAD.

Bonus Picture From Danny The Freelancer!
Last week, TWM commenter, Danny The Freelancer, mentioned his band, The Cherry’s in his comment and I asked him to send in a picture and here they are in all their power pop glory! Here’s what Danny has to say about the photo: “This is a shot of the Cherry’s live about 1982/83. That’s me on 
the right with the tambourine and the white Les Paul Custom guitar.  The guy on the left with the black Les Paul Custom is Georgie Seville, He was the original guitarist for D Generation.” Very cool, thanks for sending in the photo, Danny!

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Reader Comments (40)

Too funny Marty!

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikeyC

Mike's Tavern looks amazing! And your father's bar reminds me of one that my grandfather built in his basement. I would make people mixed drinks when I was 8......yeah, I started early. How do you get to Peoria? I want to go!

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian H.

As always, a fabulously stupid adventure. See ya Christmastime. Please dress as an elf -- in black, of course.

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLuciano

love this post! mikes is a classic bar, would love to hoist a few there. i don't know which i like better, that busch beer sign or phils scorpions t-shirt! happy birthday to your dad!

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobby D.

Haha! Great that you passed out, who else woulda loved you but good ol' Dad and, of course, good ol' Mom, too ;) You're the apple of their eye...Glug, glug, glug...

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMykola Mick Dementiuk

@MikeyC: Thanks, I hope we can get together on the next trip!

@Brian H. Mike's is probably the best bar in the world. How do you get to Peoria? I usually fly there in a drunken stupor and you're more than welcome to join me on the next trip!

@Luciano: Great seeing you and Karen, and I'll wear the Elf suit for sure, I've got it on right now!

@Bobby D: Mike's is the classic bar in Peoria and everywhere for that matter. I think it's a tie between the sign and Phil's t-shirt and I'll pass along the birthday greetings to my dad!

@Mykola Mick Dementiuk: Thanks, and I'm the well-fermented apple of their eyes!

August 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

I assume the carpets at Jerry's Bar are Scotch-Guarded.
Happy 83rd Jerry.
R.I.P. Gore Vidal.

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercsp

Thanks so much for your continued support, Marty. It really means the world to us! It's the support of all our friends, like you, at Mike's that have carried us through the last 6 months, and the reason we will always make sure the history of Mike's, and the memory of my dad will always carry on!

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShannon

This post brought a tear to my eye, but in a good way. The similarity of your Dad's birthday and my Dad's are incredible. He turned 85 on June 27th and my brother and his wife flew in from San Diego, my sister flew in from Atlanta, I'm the last one left here in Miami. We had drinks at his bar, in the Florida room,,, like a basement, he got a bottle of rum from me and a shirt from my sister,,,,we all went out to dinner,,, so similar. And Mike's Tavern looks great, grandpa Seitz looked like a real hellraiser. Yes we have a very similar family,,,a brother and a sister and parents who I am very thankful to still have.

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAl

@csp: I'll check the carpets on the next visit. I just heard about Gore Vidal, R.I.P.

@Shannon: It's my pleasure! Mike's is a Peoria treasure and I'm glad you, Roy and your family are keeping it alive! I hope to see you on my next visit! Cheers to your dad!

@Al: Please tell your dad I send belated happy birthday wishes from New York. Our families do sound similar! I hope that one day you and I could have a couple hundred drinks at Mike's or at your dad's Florida bar!

August 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Long live Freedonia, I mean Peoria!

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Duncester

It's always a treat to see your folks in your blogs (and cool to see your grandfather's pic this time too!)

You can't beat a bar that has school desks and a Nut Hut ... not even with a stick :)

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterroadsidewonders

@The Duncester: Ha ha ha! You just said the magic word!

@roadsidewonders: It was so cool to see those photos of my grandpa in Mike's! And I'll try your stick theory next time I'm home!

August 1, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

damn, Marty, I think that was my favorite post of all time. I LOVE YOUR MOM AND DAD... I think you must be the luckiest fuck in the world to have such off and yet ON balanced parents. Is it just me or does your brother look like a wider version of you?

Happy Birthday Marty's Dad (yep, he's that grown up and ..in my mind... famous).

I can't believe I'm going to say this but .... I'm putting Peoria on my bucket list!!!

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGreen Monkey

If i hadn't been on my own trip maybe i would have driven out there!
I love ma and pa wombacher.
Danny the freelancer was kinda a hottie.. i might have wanted to chase his band!
My dad will be 83 in march..
and i will be back home with him I hope:)
thank you for letting us tag along
and thanks for the concrete blonde too..
one of my friends is playing bass on that song:)(video too)

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGidget

Happy birthday to your dad!
Cheers to All at Mike's Tavern and Jerry's Bar !
You should of got your Dad to do the Beer on the Head shot !

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

Oh I forgot , whats Turtle pie ?

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJHwang

Marty, Maybe you should just have an IV inserted into your arm when you go home, cause it seems the alcohol keeps flowing with your family. Thanks for posting the Cherry's pic. Looks great.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdannythefreelancer

@Green Monkey: Thanks for the kind words, I do feel lucky to have such great parents and the fact that they are still around and in good health. And putting Peoria on your bucket list is a good idea, let me know when you go and I'll buy you a few beers at Mike's!

@Gidget: That would've been a good surprise if you would've shown up! I'm anxious to read about your trip on your blog and that's too cool your friend plays bass with Concrete Blonde. I love that band!

@JHwang: I'll have my dad do the beer head shot next time, just for you! Turtle pie is an ice cream pie from Baskin Robbins, it's my dad's favorite dessert.

@dannythefreelancer: I can't do the IV thing because needles scare me. Probably the one thing that saved me from becoming a junkie! Thanks for sending in the Cherry's picture, very cool shot. You guys had great guitars!

August 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Tony owned the bar for decades, so who's Mike?

Thanks for the fun post Marty.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJason

I really, really, really want to go to Mike's ...

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGENE

@Jason: Mike Jacoby was the original owner of Mike's. I believe that Tony took it over in the '80's. It's an iconic Peoria bar and I hope it never closes.

@GENE: You have to make it there one day/night. It should be a destination for the BBC, we should plan a trip there sometime!

August 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Good to see your folks drinking from proper receptacles and not those insidious toxic plastic bottles they were toting around in NY. If I ever find myself in Peoria (IL) be sure to have a beer or three or more at Mike's and a handful of nuts too (and then I'll borrow some of your dad's new hand sanitizer).

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterrandall

@randall: "and a handful of nuts too (and then I'll borrow some of your dad's new hand sanitizer)." Ha ha ha! Good one!

August 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

I would totally take you up on that offer to go to Peoria. I'm as spontaneous as a meerkat.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrian H.

Welcome back Daddio.
Sorry we missed. A lot going on.
Happy Birthday Mr. W!
I love your Mom's 'punky hairstyle' in that shot of her and your Dad at the bar!
Very cool!
Talk soon.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter"Boris"

@Brian H: I'll let you know! And I had to Google meerkat, you live and you learn!

@"Boris:" Thanks, Daddio! I'm going out tonight, but let's try and talk soon, I think I have some possible good news on the horizon!

August 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Wow what a lovable family you have Marty! Such a great post of everyone and it made me feel right at home! Glad you had safe travels and good times and looking forward to seeing you on the streets of Manhattan soon my friend!

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShawn Chittle

Late checkin' in, and due to the fact that I would like the birthday boy not to hate me, I will simply say........your mom.......VA-VA-VOOM !!!
Gotta run, headin' back up to the wilds of the Far North tonight.....planes got these real weird-lookin' pontoons on the landing gear.....AND THERE"S NO LAKE WHERE WE'RE GOIN'.......YIKES!!!
Have a GREAT week......and hope you broke a leg with that interview.

August 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrBOP

@Shawn: Thanks for the nice words about my family, they're the greatest and I'm always amazed they claim me as on of their own! I look forward to seeing you as well, pal, probably this weekend!

@DrBOP: My mom will really get a kick out of that, thank you sir! Good luck on the flight, I hope there's hooch on board, I think I may have good news on the job front soon! Have a good flight and a great weekend, DrBOP!

August 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Thanks, Marty. I've been down here a long time and rarely get homesick for upstate NY but the pictures of Mike's Bar and your Dad and Mom did me in. Gotta go home tonight and call the 'rents just to let them know I love them. Belated best wishes to your Dad on his birthday.

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave - Everywhere

@Dave - Everywhere: I'll send the wishes onward to my Dad from you and knowing this post inspired you to call your parents to tell them you love them made my day!

August 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Happy 83rd Mr. Wombacher!!

Marty, did you intentionally frame those shots of your mother with a plant growing in her hair? The poor woman is probably mortified!

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

@Marco: I'll pass the birthday wishes along to my dad! I had no idea about that photo till "Boris" pointed it out. But things like that haven't mortified her in years, she raised me, so she's kind of numb to being mortified!

August 3, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

It's hip to be green, so your mom is going with the flow;)

August 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarco

@Marco: Ha ha ha!

August 4, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Nice post. Nice barmaid. All my best to your family.

August 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaveW

@DaveW: Thanks! I'll send your kind regards to the family!

August 5, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

Happy Birthday, Mr. Wombacher! I hope you had a great meal and enjoyed the time with your family. They look like a great bunch of folks. As for you, Martarino, another great post! Always love seeing what's going on at Mike's. Those old photos were excellent, and I'm always impressed by a bar that keeps its old landline...but one that lets its customers use it? Priceless. So, cheers to your dad, Mike's, and Grandpa Seitz! And "If that bar could talk, it would probably slur its words"? HA HA HA! You still gots it, Marty! You still gots it.

August 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBiff

@Biff: It was a great trip and those photos of my Grandpa Seitz were the icing on the cake!

August 7, 2012 | Registered CommenterTripping With Marty

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