I’ve decided to start yet another ongoing post idea and that is going somewhere and getting something to eat. Peoria’s loaded with unique places to chow down, so it’s time to let the tasting begin!
Today’s Eating Peoria is going to take place at the best ice cream shop in the whole Peoria area: Emack & Bolio’s in Peoria Heights! I’m going there for two reasons: One of the co-owners has been one of my best friends since our crazy-ass teenage years that we somehow survived. His name is Tim Hennessey. Tim’s got a wonderful family, I’ve also been friends with his wife Tina forever and his kids are great, there’s Amy, Katie, Erin, Mike and Brian. Brian’s my Godson and sometime I need to write up about how I dripped hot candle wax on the priest’s hands during his baptism! Fun! And reason number 3,567 that I’m going to hell.
Anyway, Tim’s business partner is Jim Maxwell and in January, 2009, they opened the doors on 4534 N. Prospect Rd. in Peoria Heights for business. In the first couple of weeks, business was a little, uh, chilly. What do you expect in January? Not exactly prime ice cream time. But Tim and Jim got a break and got a nice feature article in the Peoria Journal Star written by veteran business writer, Steve Tarter. Check it out here: Ice cream heats up the Heights. Word got out about the gourmet ice cream and cool atmosphere in the store and soon lines were forming in the winter weather.
Things only got better in the spring and summer and they now have a steady client base that’s growing with every scoop of their unique and flavorful ice cream, candies and smoothies. And I know I come down on chain stores and restaurants and while Emack’s is a franchised name, the store is owned by Tim and Jim and they decorated and furnished the whole place. Every Emask & Bolio’s is privately owned and decorated by the owners, so they aren’t cookie cutter places that all look the same. And the money goes into local pockets. So I consider that when you shop there, you are shopping locally, something I really feel strongly about. So there.
I was talking with Tim the other day and he told me that they make their own New York Egg Creams there. That’s when I had the idea to do this and it's the second reason I'm going there. I’ve been enjoying egg creams in New York for over 19 years now, it’s time to see how they play in Peoria!
Okay, here we are at Emack & Bolio's, let's go inside and check it out.
You get a friendly vibe just walking in here, it's casual and there's lots of things on the walls to look at while you eat your treats.
Check out the ice cream cone hanging below the lights on the ceiling. And look, they have a tin ceiling, always the mark of a high class joint.
And here he is with today's take from the cash till, Mr. Moneybags himself, Tim Hennessey, can we get a little applause for this guy?
Sadly, I'm down to my last penny after spending all my dough to move back here. But luckily today's pay day at my job and Tim's giving me my egg cream on the house. What a guy!
Emack & Bolio's has a rock and roll theme and cool vintage posters and pictures line the walls making a fun atmosphere inside.
Here's the original poster/bill for the Monterey Pop Festival.
Ha, seeing Richie Havens name on this Isle of Wight Festival brought back a memory of a show that Tim and I saw years ago. Scroll down to the bonus story at the end of the post to read all about that.
This is a drawing that my brother Jim drew of Melanie Griffith, so cool to see that hanging in here!
Great shot of Jimi Hendrix!
If you're not in the mood for ice cream, perhaps some of their delicious handmade candies can satisfy your sweet tooth.
For those of you with adventurous tastes, they even have an ice cream pizza in here!
Okay, time to get to the heart of this food challenge, Tim begins to make me a New York egg cream in Peoria, Illinois.
He certainly looks like he knows what he's doing, I can't wait to try this!
Okay, we're just about ready to go it looks like!
And here it is, served up with a smile on Tim's dial!
Here's the freezers where the ice cream is stored, let's take a look inside.
Oh, geez, look who's in here trying to get some free ice cream, Gumby! You can't take this guy anywhere! Thanks to Tim for putting up with my hijinx today and though the years! Stop in Emack & Bolio's and tell Tim or Jim that I sent you and you'll be charged an extra 20% right off the top! See you all tomorrow!
Daily Slideshow—Photos via the internet, Photoshoppery by me!
Probably One of the Worst Nights in Richie Havens’ Life
(Disclaimer: Tim is now a respected business owner in Peoria and I’ve always been somewhat of a bad influence on him, particularly in our kind of wild and crazy youth. This story tells about us eating hash and I don’t recommend that or any kind of drug use for kids or adults. In fact, I’d like to perform a public service here right now and announce that if anyone reading this has any kind of illegal controlled substance in their house, car or possession, please bring it to my apartment at 2215 Willow Knolls Dr. and I’ll be happy to dispose of it for you. Don’t thank me, it’s just the kind of responsible adult I’ve grown into. Okay, now on with the story.)
One of folk singer’s Richie Havens’ biggest claims to fame is that he was the opening act at the legendary music festival Woodstock. That was probably one of the greatest times of his life. I can’t officially say this, but I think after you read this story you’ll agree that I was probably responsible for one of the worst times in his life.
Sometime in the early ‘80’s, I was driving home from work and heard an ad from an FM station for a local bar announcing that Richie Havens would be playing in their beer garden on the following Thursday night. I was intrigued. I can’t remember the name of the bar, so we’ll just call it Buggers Bar. Buggers was only a few blocks from the apartment complex where I lived and it was kind of a dump. The bar itself was dark, had a couple of pool tables and a vintage jukebox in the corner. In the back was a beer garden with a couple of picnic tables. It would be lucky if fifty people cold fit in there. And Richie Havens was going to be playing there? Talk about your Spinal Tap moments! “Hello Cleveland!” Well, I guess that should be, “Hello Peoria!” Or maybe just, “Hello Beer Garden.” Anyway playing in Buggers beer garden was a gig I would’ve expected a local band to turn down. But Richie Havens? This guy had sold a lot of records through the years and was a famous musician. Sure, Peoria was probably a pit stop on the way to a bigger gig in Chicago, but still, Buggers beer garden? I knew one thing though, I was going to go.
Thursday night came and I picked up my friend Tim. Tim and I have been friends since we were freshmen in high school and both of us love music and absurdist humor and this was going to be both of those rolled into one. Tim got in and as I made my way to the bar I pulled out a big slab of hash wrapped up in tin foil. And I’m not talking roast beef hash either, I’m talking hashish. I had bought this off of a drug dealer friend of mine and he assured me it was top grade shit. And it was a big slab, like five inches by five inches. Tim was impressed with it and asked if I had a hash pipe in the car and since I didn’t we decided to eat it. Tim broke the slab in two and then broke those two in two and we each ate a quarter of the slab. I was sure that was enough to really get us fucked up. And it still left half the slab for later. It was like eating sandy dirt, but luckily Tim had brought a can of beer for each of us for the ride, so we quickly ate the hash and washed it down with the beer. Soon we pulled into the back of the gravel parking lot and made our way into the inner sanctum of Buggers Bar. We each sat at a stool with crumbling burgundy leather seats in the dark and smoky bar and ordered bottles of Budweiser. Two bikers were playing pool and there were assorted older hippie type people hanging out at the bar and sitting at a couple of the tiny beat up, wooden, cigarette burned rectangle tables.
After about a half an hour I asked Tim if he felt anything from the hash and he said he didn’t. I was certain my drug dealer friend had burned me, so we each ate another quarter of the slab. About five minutes later I started to feel really stoned. So did Tim.
“I’m starting to feel really fucked up,” I told Tim.
“Me too,” he shot back. “Wait’ll the second quarter kicks in.”
“Oh, shit,” I mumbled and then we both started laughing uncontrollably. The bartender was staring at us and so was everybody else in the bar because we couldn’t stop laughing.
Right around this time the back door to the beer garden opened up and a guy announced, “Anybody with tickets to see Richie Havens, can come into the garden.”
Still giggling we made our way to the door, we dutifully handed the guy our tickets walked into the beer garden. The beer garden was basically just part of the parking lot that the owner had put a fence around. Inside the fenced in area were two small picnic tables, some folding chairs and a steel garbage can to throw your empties into. Pretty exotic, huh? For this night they had pulled the tables back and a little a little make-shift wooden stage was built with a microphone stand on it. A silver, metal stool was placed directly behind the microphone.
Tim and I sat in a couple of the beat up white folding chairs and scoped out the rest of the “audience.” They were all older hippie types, with ponytails, faded denim and they all looked thrilled to be having this intimate show with the guy who opened Woodstock. All in all, the total audience count including Tim and I was probably around fifteen. A far cry from the 500,000 he performed for at Woodstock.
After about fifteen minutes the same guy who took the tickets at the door walked on to the small wooden “stage” and said into the microphone, “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the legendary Richie Havens.”
And out from the side of the bar he emerged, acoustic guitar in hand to as much enthusiasm as a fifteen person crowd can muster. Tim and I were higher than projectile moonbeams and we were laughing our asses off. To his credit Richie Havens walked right out with a beaming smile as if he was walking into a big concert hall gig. He looked pretty much the same and was wearing jeans and a white cotton shirt. He thanked everyone for being there and started in on some meandering story about a wedding he had just been to and about what it had meant to him. Tim and I were really fucked up at this point and I said to him, “I’m so high I can hardly stand it!”
I thought I had said it to him normally, but he told me later I had said it really loud, and that I almost shouted it. I was so high I wasn’t in control of my speaking levels, I guess. Well, this caused everyone to turn and stare at me and Richie Havens even stopped his stupid little talk and he was staring at me too. I was so high and now with everyone staring at me it was too much. Koo koo ka choo. Paranoia had struck deep and I had to flee these staring faces.
I turned to Tim and said, “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
That said we both got up and ran out of the beer garden, through the bar and out to the back of the parking lot where my car was. We jumped into the car and we both started laughing uncontrollably. In between our laughter I said to Tim, “Watch this.”
Then I started my car and drove it over to the beer garden fence and positioned my car directly behind Richie Havens and I pulled it up as close to the fence as I could get it. He was singing, “Here Comes the Sun.” I put the car in park and then laid on the horn. This stopped the song and some people were screaming at us, calling us assholes and various other sundry names. I let up on the horn blowing and Richie Havens started singing the song again. Then I yelled out the window, “Hey Richie here comes the sun,” and I started turning my headlights off and on and honking the horn again. What a jerkoff I was, but it was some funnyass shit, let me tell you. Tim and I were howling with laughter. It was one of those stoned mind-tickling moments that can only happen after ingesting a couple grams of high grade hash into your system.
By now tears are streaming down our faces and Tim shouted out, “Oh shit!”
This caused me to look in his direction and the burly bartender and about five guys were running towards my car. And they didn’t look too pleased. I threw the car into reverse, backed up and then floored it out of the parking lot, spraying gravel at the angry fellows in our wake. We went to another bar and laughed ourselves silly over our adventure. Tim and I still talk about it to this day.
Just the fact that he could only drum up fifteen people to come see him in an entertainment-starved city must’ve been depressing enough. But then to have some stoned out hash-head blow you some serious shit must’ve really made for a bad night in the life and career of one Mr. Richie Havens. So Richie, if you’re by some weird chance reading this, I’d love to say I’m sorry...but that’s just not going to happen. Ha ha ha.