Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Burger Barge

The Burger Barge is located at 1401 N. Main in East Peoria. If you go to Jonah's/Par-a-Dice casino, take the access road north. If you see a dilapidated boat on your left hand side you are on the right track. Marty Wombacher from 365 Beers stopped here a while back and you can find his review here.

Unfortunately, my camera died just as I was about to walk into the Barge so I was only able to get a couple of pictures of the outside. This is a damn shame because there are so many cool things to take pictures of inside the bar. There are napkins pinned to every wall that have patrons' depictions of the Burger Barge. The ceiling tiles are adorned with graffiti and jokes from hundreds of customers, not to mention all the boating and drinking paraphernalia that fights for space on every wall.

I love bars like this that are cluttered with stuff, it gives the place a unique atmosphere that is unlike any other. Before you even walk into the Barge you feel like you are on vacation. That is, unless you go there in the winter. Even then, the Barge is a tropical oasis in the wintery desolation that is our Illinois winter. The Burger Barge reminded me immediately of Key West. If Jimmy Buffett lived in Peoria, you would probably find him here every day of the week. Speaking of Jimmy, the old school jukebox is loaded with Buffet albums as well as other summer-ish music like the Beach Boys and Bob Marley. There is also a decent amount of country music on there to give it a midwest feel.

In case you haven't already heard, the Burger Barge has some of the best burgers around. I'm going to go ahead and say that I don't think there is another place in the Peoria are that has better burgers than the ones available at the Barge. These aren't just your typical hamburgers either. There are over a dozen different selections including the Tavern Burger which is topped with barbecue sauce and cole slaw!

There is even a burger that has the famed Luciano Cheese Blobs on it. There's a lot more than just burgers though. The Barge has pork and chicken sandwiches, plenty of appetizers, and an extensive cocktail list. There is also a burger buffet where you can build your own, I would just assume to leave it to the professionals and the staff at the Barge are definitely that. You can check out the full menu here.

Drinks are cheap at the Barge, unlike the tourist trap Key West bars that the place resembles. With the exception of the fancy cocktails (I had the Blue Curacao) you can get pretty well drunk at the Barge for about twenty bucks. Sundays are build your own Bloody Mary bar ($2), which seems to have become a popular thing the last couple of years. The Barge has great daily specials (except for Fridays) that I have listed below.

The bar is small but comfortable with a few TV's to watch the game. The indoor seating area seats about 50 and there are a couple nice new flatscreens to watch the World Cup. You are watching the World Cup AREN'T YOU?

Outside you can sit on concrete or in the sand. There is a patio with a tin roof over it with fish-shaped high top tables and some booths that look like they came from a Dairy Queen. The eclectic decor makes it's way outside too. Closer to the river there is a large sand box with several picnic tables to eat, drink, and smoke at. With all the Buffet and Marley playing, you might be tempted to smoke something other than cigarettes (har har).

Unfortunately the river is way too high to dock at the barge right now, but once it goes down you can dock your boat and walk up the hill to grab a bite to eat and a few drinks. This is one of the coolest parts about the barge. Every day, you get a nice mix of boaters, locals, and out-of-towners staying at the Par-a-Dice hotel just down the road. While peeking around, I noticed that the owner(s?) are constructing a bar outside that seats about 20. I'm not sure when it will be ready but it looks like it will be really nice out there.

This weekend the Burger Barge has lined up three days of entertainment for our Independence Day. Friday night Chicago Farmer will play from 5-9:30. Saturday the great band Rooster Alley will play from 6-10. In case you've never heard of them, check out their website, these guys seriously Rock the Fuck Out. Their lead singer/guitarist wears a guitar strap that has 6 or 7 harmonicas on it! If that doesn't get your Mojo Workin, nothing will. Sunday, Reverend Ed and the Sunday Drive will play from 2-6. I'm not sure what the view of the fireworks would be like from here but it should still be a fun place to hang out for the 4th of July festivities.

So, cheers to the Burger Barge for providing the Peoria area with a little slice of Key West mixed our
patented midwest hospitality!

Daily Specials
M $1.75 cans-o-beer
T $2 wells
W 6 for $5 8oz. Coors cans
T $2 build your own margarita bar
F/S None, it's Friday, if you can't get folks to come to your bar on Friday and Saturday, you're Fucked!
S $2 build your own Bloody Mary bar

Update - I went to the Burger Barge a few days ago and thourougly enjoyed it. I shot some photos and you can check them out below. But first a couple bits of news. The Tiki Bar outside has been completed and seats firfty (50). There's a new menu items as well, it's called the Loosy and it's basically just loose meat sandwiches and loose meat added to omelets, and barges (Burger Barge speak for sandwiches.) That's it for now, cheers and beers!

This is the bacon burger. Fucking. Amazing.
This is the napkin I drew on and hung near the front door. Pretty good huh? Yah I know, I'm awesome in so many ways. The Spirit of Peoria looks like shit though. Hi Marty! Cheers!

Crow's Nest

The Crow's Nest is located at 633 E. Lake Avenue in what is I believe technically Peoria Heights. This place has been a bar since I was still wandering around the playground at Rogi's and used to be called Ajay's. Located just next door is another tavern, the Stadium Club.

The Crow's Nest is a small and very red bar. The walls are all red and there are several lamps of the same color decorating the bar. Behind the bar is a fancy set of shelves packed with all kinds of booze. Not just your typical John, Jack, and Jose either, Crow's Nest has the extras like the various flavored Three Olives etc. Not my thing but some people like to mix it up with that stuff. They also have four beers on tap; Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light. One very unique thing about the Nest is that they have a modern pay phone, just next to the front door. I say it's modern because it has a card swipe thingy on it, I've never seen one anywhere else. There are daily specials at the Nest, Tuesdays are $2 domestic bottles, I didn't write down the rest, I will add an update to this post as soon as I get the chance.

The bar seats about 15 and there are a dozen or so stools opposite the bar with a shelf for your drinks. In between is one of the three pool tables. Now that I think about it, the fact that there are three tables in Crow's Nest might add to the allusion that this place is small. The two tables at either end will cost you 75 cents and the Valley table in the middle costs 50. This is pretty unique. I don't think I've ever been to a place where one table costs more than the other. Speaking of pool, if you want a challenge, the Crow's Nest is the place to go. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of good shooters at the Nest. They have a team that plays in the River City Billiards league and they are damn good. A word of warning though, these tables are FAST! The Nest has some of the fastest tables I have ever played on. So, grab a light cue (16 or 17) and take it easy on that cue ball!

There's only one TV at the Nest but it is a big one that is jammed tightly behind the bar. To the left of the bar are two computer monitors with internet available to browse. The bathrooms are right near the back door and are labelled Pimps and Hoes, which should be pretty easy to figure out. In between the Stadium Club and the Nest is a small smoking area for you twenty percenters out there. The Stadium Club is another place the PBR plans on checking out soon (hopefully) but you'll have to wait for that review.

So, cheers to the straight shooters of the River City and cheers to the Crow's Nest!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Okay, it's been a while since the PBR has written a negative review. After the controversy over the Douchebag Bars post, our editor in chief decided it would be good to hold off on bashing a place for a while. So, since there has been several positive reviews in the past couple of weeks it is time to even the scales. In case you hadn't already gotten the hint and you happen to be someone who really likes Jillian's you might not want to read this post. And away we go....

Jillian's is located in the former Linen's and Things building at the The Shoppes at Grand Prairie (aka the new mall). I never went in there when it was still Linen's and Things but they must have had a lot of "things" in there because this place is fucking huge. One thing I will say about Jillian's is that it is a great place to take your kids or host a birthday party. There are plenty of games for the kiddies to play and a nice selection of food and drinks for the adults as well as a comfortable bar and dining area complete with plenty of TV's. There is even a bowling alley with 6 or 7 lanes for your pin-knockin-down pleasure. The games run the gamete from classics like skee-ball and the basketball free-throw game to newer video games like Time Crisis (my personal favorite) and some take-your-chance games that you can win tickets off of. Just like Chuck E Cheese there are a bunch of corny prizes to "buy" with your tickets. They even have a guitar for the low low price of 9000 tickets. However, you would probably have to spend about $200 to get that many tickets. Beyond all that, there really isn't anything about Jillian's that's all that great. It is just not a place that I (or any of my friends for that matter) would want to go to to have drinks.

The bar at Jillian's is really nice and has four (4) large flatscreens and a good selection of beers on tap and in bottles. What's the problem with that you ask? Well it might have to do with the fact that everything at Jillian's is outrageously overpriced. I drank four beers there and my tab was almost thirty dollars. Now, that might not be a big deal for some of you but for me, that is quite ridiculous. Usually after spending thirty dollars at a bar I'm pretty well buzzed and probably ready to call it a night. Another thing that pisses me off about Jillian's are the pool tables. They are absolutely gorgeous. They are full size nine foot tables with red felt and copper pockets. I don't think I've ever shot on a table as nice as the ones at Jillian's. There is just one problem; they cost TWELVE FUCKING DOLLARS AN HOUR! Oh, and this price goes up on the weekends and at night. I've been to Jillian's twice now and have yet to see anyone playing on them, what a waste. The food is decent but once again overpriced. Basically, you're eating Chili's style food but paying 2-3 dollars more on any given dish.

This review is not a knock on anyone who works at or frequents Jillian's. If you like the place, good for you, it's just not my thing. Actually, it kind of is my thing, just not at those prices. Hell, they serve beer at Chuck E Cheese and have practically the same amount of games! Not to mention, they are far cheaper. I think this is another example the "new place" syndrome. Where in, a new place opens up and a bunch of people (with more money than me) pack the joint just because it's pretty inside. In my mind, going somewhere and paying more for a beer when there are plenty of places around that are just as nice but cheaper and, in some cases locally owned, is the same thing as buying a Hummer. Really, you really need a fucking Hummer? What are you, preparing for the Apocalypse? Don't worry though, this place will rake in the dough, all of which will go to whatever corporation owns Jillian's, far, far away from Peoria. Sure, we'll make money off the taxes but I just loath chains. I would have much rather seen a local business open up in this location. Although that's probably impossible due to the sheer magnitude of the building.

Oh, and there was an assload of douchebags in Affliction and Ed Hardy gear there as well as plenty of Hummers in the parking lot. So, the PBR will not be giving a cheers to Jillian's, we will save our cheers for places that actually deserve it. In case you have forgotten you can send your hate mail to, post it on the Facebook page, or just let it fly in the comments section! The PBR will however give a cheers to staff writer DS who was supposed to write this post months ago when Jillian's first opened and is just now getting around to it. Cheers DS!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Peoria Institution: Garden Gate Tap

The Garden Gate Tap is located on Garden St. just off of Adams in downtown Peoria. The Garden Gate has the unlucky distinction of having the address 1313 W. Garden St. The GGT, as it is affectionately known (between TheChief and Bobby Bolts that is) is a small and friendly neighborhood tavern. The reason it is called the Garden Gate is because of the gates that protect the windows and door from vandals and would-be robbers. No need to worry though, the GGT is just as safe as any of the other many bars in this area. Why a thief would want to rob a bar I will never know. It seems to me that walking into a room full of drunk people and robbing their favorite watering hole would be the last thing you would want to do. It must have something to do with the fact that bars are open later than most other businesses.

The GGT is definitely a no-frills place. I added the Gate to the PBR's list of Peoria Institutions after a recent trip down there. Back when the majority of Peorians actually lived downtown there was quite a few taverns in this area. As time has gone on though they have closed and most of these buildings remain empty. The Gate, like Roger's is one of the few remaining holdouts. The bar itself is very intimate. It is the classic one- room bar design. The bars seats twenty and there are no tables. The Gate is another place where there is no TV behind the bar, a phenomenon I've touched on before. There are however two TV's at either end of the bar. In the middle of the room is a Valley pool table that really doesn't get much action considering the cramped space. What does get a lot of action though is the Shuffleboard table. I'm a big fan of shuffleboard but I was informed by one of the regulars that I was playing the wrong way. As a matter of fact, my method of playing was so foreign to both the bartender and the locals that on a return trip a different bartender asked BB and I if we were the ones there a few weeks earlier playing "that weird version of shuffle". I said yes and we had a nice discussion on the many different versions people have of shuffleboard. At the Gate, they play some very odd games, the rules of which fail me now but as soon as I learn them I'll be sure to let you know.

The regulars are very welcoming at the gate as are the prices. The last few times I've been to the Gate, there hasn't been any beer on draft, despite the three tappers in the middle of the bar. A bottle of domestic will cost you two(2) bucks and a shot is four (4). Don't expect to find any imports in this place. Well, they might have them but I would expect they don't and asking for one would probably get some laughs from the folks at the bar. The GGT is a classic shot-and-a-beer bar which are always my favorite. As I said the regulars (mostly old timers, I was the youngest person in there by about 30 years) are very friendly. The gentleman (and I use this term loosely) I talked to down there was quick with a joke and advice on shuffleboard. For instance:

Guy: "What did God say to the Cubs?"
Me:  "I don't know."
Guy: " Don't do anything until I get back!"
Me: "Haahahahaha" thinking in my mind, I can't wait till 2012 that is our year!

Now, as a Cubs fan I have had to hear a shitload of crappy Cubs jokes but this one got me. Anything that references God and the Apocalypse in joke form is always good stuff. Another great thing about the Gate is their jukebox. They still have an old school flip disc juke box. I would be remiss if I didn't tell you though, that the juke is filled with nothing but country. The artists range from old school suicide country like Hank Williams and George Jones to neo-classic country like George Strait, all the way up to the Jimmy Buffett-esque stuff from Kenny Chesney. I love some classic country but my limit at the Gate would be about 2 hours unless I was really shithoused, then I could stick around longer. Without massive amounts of booze in me I have to have some variety. No worries though, Roger's is right down the street so I could always head up there and get my fix of Little Milton and my favorite pool-shootin, shot-takin, beer-poundin song, Eminence Front.

Back to the joke guy. He taught me so many bar tricks I can't even remember all of them. The one in the picture above I was able to pull off (that's why I took the picture.) As you can see there is only about two swigs missing from that bottle of glorious Bud Light and yet it is perfectly balanced on that salt shaker. How did I do this you ask? Well, the trick to it is you have to have those old school salt shakers with square dimples on them. They used to have them at just about every greasy spoon diner but they're pretty hard to find now. I do know of one place that still has them, the Garden Gate Tap! So, while this is a really cool trick, the only place I know of where I could pull it off would be the Gate. Bummer. I'm gonna keep my eye out though so I can win some money off some schmuck at a bar someday. If anyone reading this knows of a place that has or sells these shakers, shoot me an email at or on our Facebook page.

If I didn't live so far from the Gate, I would definitely like to get real drunk in there on a Saturday night and see what kind of craziness goes on. Maybe I could even get into a good old fashioned barroom brawl or something, that would be sweet. For now, I'll just have to settle for the Gate being one of my "few beers after work joint." A man can dream though.

There are so many bars in this area you could take a day and just do "beer a bar" (copyright Bobby Bolts 1998). Although when you get to the Gate, the friendly atmosphere might make you want to stay for more than one, I know it always does for me. Cheers to the Garden Gate Tap and cheers to the holdouts!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Blue is a new (ish) bar located at 619 W. Main St., just a few doors down from the Elbo Room. Blue has been open for (I think) about 6-8 months. The building at 619 Main has been a bar for a long time starting with the Gaslight, then the Gaslight II, and, for a short time Top of the Hill Bar and Grill. I never got the chance to go here when it was still the Gaslight but it was, apparently a much different place than it is now. The owners of Blue basically completely gutted, rearranged, and refurbished the entire bar, giving a much different atmosphere than the Gaslight had.

Unfortunately, the Journal Star's completely useless website turned up no hits when I searched it for the Gaslight. So, you're just going to have to take my word on the following story. The Gaslight was apparently run by a group of coke dealers/heads who were eventually brought down by the FBI and sentenced to a federal pound me in the ass prison. Whomever took over after that turned it into the Top of the Hill Bar and Grill for a short time before closing up shop. So, you can't get with the white lady at 619 W. Main anymore but you can get drinks, food and a good time.

Blue is the most unique bar in Peoria. It is definitely not your typical downtown dive. Blue caters to a more high class set than most (okay, all) of the bars in the area. The atmosphere is very artsy as is the clientele. The bar seats about twenty and is topped with an intricate mosaic of blue, white, and green tiles. One could easily spend an hour tracing the various loops and turns of the tiles. There are extremely comfortable high backed stools at the bar with their chair counterparts at the tables near the front (Main St.) entrance. In the middle of the bar is a nice new Valley pool table with new cues for your shooting pleasure. Just inside the back entrance is an old school, flip disc jukebox. The jukebox has a great selection of music ranging from indie to punk and most importantly LOCAL ARTISTS! There is even a disc in there that just has a question mark on it, in case you're in the mood for some mystery. Other unique aspects of Blue include and old school dart board, board games, retro glasses (I got Elmer Fudd) and on some nights, Nintendo on the flatscreen. Nothing beats getting drunk and playing Super Mario Bros. Blue is primarily a hipster bar, but (I think) the owner is a Cubs fan, so you don't have to worry about missing the game.

The prices at Blue are reasonable especially if you heed the nightly specials. You can check them out on Facebook, where they do a good job of letting everyone know what the specials are everyday. Blue also serves food, you can eat there or order take out. Their menu consists of mostly soups, salads, and sandwiches. They also have free wi-fi which makes it a great place for lunch if you work downtown. The menu has all kinds of fancy stuff on it that my girlfriend tried to explain to me but I still failed to understand. Despite the fanciness, the food is reasonably priced. Not sure what the kitchen hours are but they have menus available for you to add to your collection.

So, if your sick of the same old shot-and-a-beer bars here in town, head down to Blue and enjoy the unique atmosphere. I'm pretty sure they are the only bar in about ten square miles that serves wine. Blue is a great place to take your girlfriend to. She'll be happy about the wine and the atmosphere and you can still catch the game and play some pool. Blue has a little bit of everything.

A big cheers goes to Blue for providing downtown Peoria with a little class and another big cheers for supporting local artists!

Editor's Note: I stole the picture of the bar from Blue's Facebook page.

Update: Blue was recently approved for a 2 AM liquor license. According to their Facebook page, they will be open till 2 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Peoria Institution: The Hillside

The Hillside is located at 1745 North Sheridan Road near Gale Ave. The Hillside may be the most aptly named bar in Peoria as the building is situated at the bottom of two hills (Sheridan and Gale). Driving by as a kid, it always reminded of a hobbit hole for some reason. The building is small and old, the only thing that really sticks out in my mind is the small breezeway that serves as the front (and only) entrance to the bar. One thing that is truly unique about this bar is the parking lot, which is on the south side of the building. If you own a truck, it would be no big deal to pull straight out onto Sheridan. If you own a car however, trying this will surely end up with a badly scraped bumper. So if you happen to find yourself leaving the Hillside after a few cocktails remember; BACK OUT!

A little bit of history for you. PBR staffer DS told me that the Hillside used to be called JT's and was apparently a great place to get the white stuff. Why it wasn't always called the Hillside I will never know. Anyway, I remember always seeing cars parked right on Sheridan in front of and up the hill from this bar. A friend of a friend told me that one time, a drunk driver (not me, I swear!) was flying down the hill and hit the car farthest up the hill. This, apparently started what was surely a hilarious cartoonish accordion-style smashing of numerous vehicles. The person who told me this story did not find humor in it, as his car was involved and did not fare well in the collision. He says that ever since then, very few people park on the hill. Indeed that is the case, most days I drive by the Hillside, sometimes there might be one car, parked directly in front of the bar but that's about it.

There are two things that are extremely unique about the Hillside. First, is the bar which is (Cardinal) red and has raised dots on it that remind me of Lego blocks. Second, is the fact that the Hillside has two (2) addresses. The correct address is listed above but, if you look just to the right of the door, the original address is 803, which can be found inside the breezeway upon entering the bar.

One of the things I like most about the Hillside is that, it's kind of in a no man's land. Just up the street, north of McClure, are Whitey's Tip Top and the Sports Page (now under a different name.) If you drive south you'll find yourself on Main St. right next to the Elbo Room and Blue. The valley in between these two bar clusters, holds the Hillside. This bar is heavy on charm. The Hillside is the kind of place where on most nights, the bartender is drinking a beer right along with you. Most of the time this works without a problem but on one of my first visits there, the guy made a mistake. I ordered a vodka tonic and was handed what turned out to be a tequila tonic. I'm not a big fan of tequila to begin with but having to drink it with no warning was especially jarring. I told the bartender about the mix up and he gave me a free vodka tonic, all the while insisting that the drink he had made me was "not that bad". Yah, that's right, he actually drank it. I can't remember what he named it but I do know he was a pretty funny guy. This is also a place (like Roger's) where it's pretty easy to coax the bartender into a game of pool. Most of the time though, you would be better off just putting your money on the table as the beer slingers at both of these places are pretty damn good.

Speaking of pool, the Hillside has got you covered if you're into billiards. They have two tables, one of which is usually vacant as it sits in a weird little side room away from the bar. The other one, which is pictured above is straight back at the end of the bar. If you are a pool cue snob, you might want to bring your own. The cues at the Hillside are well loved. I usually play my best games with a bent cue on a shitty bar table though, so it doesn't bother me. Behind the main table is the stained glass beer serving lady, which looks like it's supposed to be German and helps to give the bar some of it's character. There are two small flatscreens at either end of the bar with none in between. It seems to be like there are a lot of bars in Peoria like this. Maybe it is because they have been bars before there was TV, I'm not quite sure. The jukebox is a digital one (boo!), so you can play T-Pain right before Hank Williams. That's what I usually do just to keep everyone happy. You are probably going to need a diverse taste in music for a night at the Hillside. Most nights, the jukebox jumps from country to rap and everything in between.

This is especially true on karaoke night, which is one of the most fun I've ever been to. Whatever you do, don't try to sing "Love Train" because there is this dude there that sings it perfectly and does the dance too. For your game playing pleasure there is also a pin ball machine and Golden Tee to hold your interest.

Just before writing this post, I decided it would be a good idea to go down to the Hillside once again to get a feel for the place. It was my plan to take down the daily/weekly specials to let you, dear reader, know about them. I failed miserably. All I know is that on most nights a pitcher of beer will cost you 5 bucks. Shots are around $3 a piece and there is an extremely spartan, yet workable amount of booze behind the bar. My return to the Hillside though, turned out to be a magical one, as one of the regulars provided the bar with a ridiculous amount of Avanti's bread. I walked out with 6 loaves and there were many more to be had beyond that.

The Hillside is definitely a Cardinals bar. The bartender's name is Steve Cardinal, which pretty much designates him as a Cardinal fan for life. Much like most Cardinal fans that I know, he is a fan of all things baseball which means that if the Cards aren't playing the Cubs will be on the TV. Steve is also a big fan of Yogi Berra and his timeless quotes. One final note, if you decide to go to the Hillside and the door is locked, just give it a knock and whomever is bartending will answer. Just because it is late doesn't mean they are closed, it just means they're careful!

Cheers to the Hillside and cheers to Cardinal fans, even though they are misguided, lost souls who secretly wish they could root for a team that has enough resilience to play for a championship 102 years in the making!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Peoria Institution: Tina's Coach Stop

Tina's Coach Stop is located at 3522 West Lincoln Ave. in Peoria. I think technically this part of Peoria is known as Bellevue but could also be considered South Peoria as Tina's sits atop the bluff just a short drive from the southside. I'll tag Tina's as being part of both both.

Tina's is a bar with a lot of history. The building was constructed in 1840 and was originally an inn. The bar is below ground in what used to be the horse stables. The 1st and 2nd floors are vacant and Tina informed me that they are filled with her stepfather's antique collections. Rumor has it that Abraham Lincoln stopped here back in the day, but Tina could not confirm or deny this legend. One of the first things I thought upon entering the bar was "how in the hell did they get this pool table in here?" It must have been a feat of engineering as neither of the doors are at all big enough to squeeze it through. There are only two (2) explanations as to how the table got there. Either the building was built around the table (not likely but would be awesome), or the table was brought in piece by piece and put together inside the bar.

Tina's is cramped with only about 15 stools around the rectangular bar. Drafts are available through one of those old "keg in the wall" tappers. I had a Bud Light ($2.25 on Thursdays, $1.25 on Fridays) and the bartender brought me a can. I'm pretty sure Tina's doesn't have bottles. As I pounded down numerous beers, the bartender Randy kept up by ripping the tabs off and crushing each can in some kind of awesome can crusher I've never seen before. Randy did a good job at first but as more and more people poured in the cans started to add up on the bar. No worries though, Tina hopped to it and started crushing away. Everyone was really nice and Tina made sure that I learned as much about the place as she could tell me. Tina's was featured in a book by local historian and Journal Star columnist Jerry Kline (I think it is called "Played in Peoria"). The picture was taken sometime in the 50's and the only difference was the lack of the front breezeway which is a recent edition. Seeing as how Tina's is well over a hundred years old, the definition of "recent" is a little different than most places. I'd say the breezeway is approaching it's twentieth birthday.

Not surprisingly, there is a supernatural element to Tina's. Both Tina and Randy, as well as several regulars attested to seeing figures and witnessing odd events. Apparently, one night the pool table was empty, no balls and no chalk. Randy and one of the regulars were the only folks in the bar when they heard what they thought was something falling over in the back room. Both went back to check it out and found nothing out of place. When they returned to the bar, they found several balls and a cube of chalk on the pool table. Spooooooky. I'm not sure if I believe this tale but it still makes for good storytelling and with a place as old as Tina's I wouldn't doubt that ghosts could be hanging around.

I'm going to go ahead and add Tina's to the list of Peoria Institutions. It is a shame that I didn't put it on there to begin with but I honestly didn't know about it until recently. Well, I had heard of it before and seen pictures in the Bar Paper but I had no idea the historical significance of the building. If Tina had enough money to renovate the building with the proper materials it would be very easy for her to have it added to an historical landmark list. I guess I just didn't picture it in my mind as it exists in person. This is not just another South Peoria dive bar. Tina's, like Mike's has an historic element that makes it very special and when you walk in the bar you can feel it immediately. Everyone in Peoria should go check this place out. You might get a couple looks at first but it doesn't take much time at all for the regulars to warm up to you. Not to mention that Tina is as gracious a host as any barfly could hope for. I'm definitely going to make Tina's one of my regular stops and you, dear reader should as well. So, cheers to history and cheers to the Coach Stop!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Things Unique to Peoria

Having lived here my whole life with the exception of a few years there are many things that I have discovered as being completely unique to our Fair City. Some of them are people, some of them are places, and others are things that we do all the time. I am hoping that this will become a regular feature of the PBR but I'm going to need your help in determining things that you can only find in Peoria. So, if you have any suggestions for possible topics, feel free to post them on the PBR Facebook page or e-mail me at

The first of these things may or may not be familiar depending upon your age. To folks of my generation however (between 20 and 30 yrs. old), this first post should hit home. So, without any further ado, the PBR presents to you;

Things Unique to Peoria: The Yellow Lighter Conspiracy
A quick google search led to the discovery that the belief that yellow lighters are bad luck is held by folks all over. However, in Peoria it seems that amongst a certain set of people, this is no longer just a conspiracy but a fact that is beyond debate. I cannot count the amount of times I have seen someone chastised for any of the following reasons:

Trying to hand a yellow lighter to someone in order to light a cigarette or bowl
Having a yellow lighter on your person in someone else's car
Simply using a yellow lighter yourself

I have seen people throw yellow lighters out of car windows because they felt that unless they got rid of it, they would surely be pulled over. I have seen people throw the lighter into the street because it's simple presence in their garbage can was still enough to ensure bad luck. I will admit though, that there seems to be a higher level of paranoia amongst those who smoke the reefer (go figure). So, if you happen to be a smoker in the presence of other smokers and try to use your yellow lighter, be prepared. You have just opened up a Pandora's box of bad luck stories ranging from simply getting busted with pot, to yellow lighters playing an integral part in the J.F.K. assassination. It is not just stoners though, it seems that their paranoia has spread to the general public. Don't believe me? Go to any gas station and check out their lighter selection. I guarantee you the majority of lighters left in the display will be yellow. Check the picture above. Does this mean that Peoria is infested with pot smoking hippies hell bent on bringing down the yellow lighter industry? While I'll admit that Peoria seems to have a higher than normal ratio of smokers to non smokers, this is not the case. People generally go with the flow and when the majority of the people you know are completely against yellow lighters in any situation, then human nature takes over and yellow lighters are left stranded on counters throughout the land.

For example, I myself have never had a bad experience or any kind of bad luck in the presence of a yellow lighter. The reasons for this are two-fold. First, I have been in the presence of a YL only a handful of times in my entire life. Each time, the culprit was given a lecture on the subject and the YL was disposed of properly. In short, there was not really much of a chance for anything to happen. Second, I myself have never purchased or used a YL. I am a pretty superstitious person but most of these superstitions are based on actual bad things happening to me.* When it comes to yellow lighters though, I can't say anything bad has happened. So why am I so afraid of them? Probably for the same reason that I still don't eat meat on Fridays during Lent. It has burned into my brain that not doing either of these things will result in something terrible happening. Besides, who am I to test the lighter gods?

* For instance, I always wear a cup when I'm hanging out with my friend Silent Bob because one time, he kicked me square in the nuts.

So, while not completely unique to Peoria, the yellow lighters = bad luck superstition is still alive and well in the River City. I envision the day though where yellow lighters are no longer second class citizens. I still hold out hope that one day, they can serve their useful purpose right along side their red, blue, and green brothers. I however will not be the one to break the trend. Are you crazy? Those things are bad luck!!!

T.U.T.P. Scale
Thingness - 10/10
Uniqueness: 6/10
Quirkiness: 10/10

Peorianess*: 9/10

*"Peorianess" is a trademarked word created by TheChief on Thursday, June 3, 2010. Any and all use of this word without the expressed, written consent of the Peoria Bar Review is punishable by law.