Yesterday was a great day for MBIP publicity! The day started off with a wnderful feature article in the Peoria Journal Star by their Entertainment Editor Danielle Hatch. Then later on in the day I was interviewed by Alexandra Sutter for WMBD/CI Proud nightly news. Here’s a link to this story on the news: Peoria Man Honors The River City. Thanks to Alexandra for a great interview, she’s really a talented broadcaster. She even agreed to pose for the MBIP camera!
Okay, back to the blog!
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you know my only free night to go out is Sunday night. This has limited me as far as going to bars is concerned, because here in Peoria, a lot of them close early and some don’t open at all. I’ve been reluctant to go to a bar after work, because I don’t believe in drinking and driving, hence the cabs on Sundays if I’m traveling solo. But I do know that your body processes the alcohol from one beer in one hour, so if you stick to one beer an hour, you’re fine. Which leads to a new series of posts I’m going to start where I go to a bar and have two beers in two hours.
When I went to Sky Harbor a few weeks ago, owner Daryl Klusendorf told me about a new bar that opened on Farmington Road, just down the road from Sky Harbor, called, Kenny’s Westside Pub. Daryl said it just opened up, but when you walk in, it feels like an old Irish bar that’s been on the block for years. That sounds great to me, let’s go get a couple of beers!
And here we are at Kenny's Westside Pub. This place was known as "The Dorm," but I remember it way back in the day when it was called, "Billkings."
The sign says, "Enter..."
And so it's in we go through this sturdy black wooden door.
Wow, Daryl was right, this has the look and feel of a classic bar that's been here for years. Let's grab a stool at the bar and get the first beer.
And beer number one is served up by the bar's owner and host, Sean Kenny. I had a nice chat with Sean and he told me a lot about himself and the bar. Sean's life has been steeped in the Peoria bar business since he was a little kid. His uncle, David Reynolds owned the bar Chantilly Lace and Sean and a lot of his family and extended family worked there. He told me it was at that place that he got hooked on the bar business. He's put time in at a lot of the local bars including, Sully's, Tom Cats, The Lucky Lady, Eamon's Public House and Cam's Place, where he was the General Manager for the last four years. Sean said it was at Cam's where he really learned the business of managing a bar and now his dream is coming true as he's opened his own place. Let's take a look around and see what Sean has done with this joint.
There's a nice display of lit up liquor bottles behind the bar.
Vintage chandelier lamps hang over and illuminate the bar.
Wooden booths with blood-red leather padding line the wall opposite the bar.
And it's at one of the booths that I met Joanna and Cramer, who's the Kitchen Manager here at the Westside Pub. What in the world are they looking at on the laptop?
There's lots of art and vintage photos on the dark wooden walls in here, let's take a look at some of it.
This is a city council poster for Bill King who owned the bar in the '70's and '80's. It's a nice tribute to him.
Here's a cool vintage photo of boxers and sportsmen from the past.
Signs for an independent West Peoria. Complete with an exclamation point!
I love the antique cash register behind the bar.
Sean pointed out the taps at the front of the bar. The taps are from the 1940's and Sean refurbished them when he bought this place and moved them to the front of the bar. Let's take a closer look at them.
This is an impressive selection, I think it's going to get a high rating from our resident taps-master, Spike in the comments section today.
The place is filling up and Sean's busy behind the bar.
This used to be a one-room bar, but Sean knocked out a wall and added a second room behind the bar. Let's go take a look at it.
It's very nice back here. They've got a pool table, a dart board and...
Red leather lined makeout booths in the back.
I love the cool Pabst paintings hanging on the walls back here.
Check out the tin ceiling back here, just one more thing that gives this bar a look like it's been here forever.
Meanwhile back at the bar, Sean serves up a house made flat bread pizza. They have an extensive menu in here including a wide range of sandwiches, salads and appetizers and all the entrees are made by scratch from recipes made exclusively for the bar.
Here's Tim and Sydney at the bar. They just finished off a cheeseburger dinner and said it was great. I need to check back here for Saturday Night Cheeseburger soon!
Here's a long shot of the wooden bar.
As I sat down at my seat, John joined us at the end of the bar. John helped put this bar together and Sean told me how his friends and family took this place over on February 1st and amazingly transformed it into this place by St. Patrick's Day, which was opening day for the bar. There's a lot of Peoria history behind this building, it was originally a blacksmith shop and horse stable in the early 1900's, and later converted to a tavern by the notorious Shelton Gang, local rivals of Al Capone. Mobster Bernie Shelton was gunned down to death in front of the tavern. This place is rich with history.
And Sean serves up the second beer with what's going to become the standard, "two beer bartender salute" for this ongoing series. Thanks to Sean for a great night at Kenny's and we'll see you all tomorrow.