Stemming from the rousing response to Marty's recent photo of Sandy's restaurant on facebook (over 2,000 “likes” and over 700 comments) we thought to do a series of before and after pictures of Peoria businesses and former hot spots around town. For those who have moved to Peoria in recent years you can get a bit of the feel of Peoria pre-1980's. Those who grew up here it's sometimes tough to remember when there was a bustling downtown and the fringes of city were located at Northmoor Road. Sherman, set the Wayback machine...
One of the last sit down non-alcoholic restaurants downtown. Located at the corner of Adams and Main it seemed to be a mainstay of retirees office workers. The cafeteria closed over 10 years ago the building remained vacant until being razed for the current Riverfront Museum.
Residing on Jefferson at the spot of the Civic Center entrance. It was near the monolithic Jefferson Hotel and across the street from WMBD's former site. The seemingly huge outdoor lobby was splendidly filled with colorful teaser ads, posters, and lobby cards for current and upcoming movies. Another attraction lost in the malling of the American movie house. I remember as a child of seven years old being completely entranced by the massive Planet of the Apes display. Also saw Star Wars for the first time from the the second floor balcony. Urban folklore remains of rivers of barf flowing down the aisles during the showing of The Exorcist.
Jumer's Castle Lodge
With Bavarian stylings, Jumer's was the showcase of hotels in Peoria and featured a four star restaurant favored by locals and visitors from the hotel. Often frequented by visiting Bradley parents, the location is about the corner of Western and Moss. The building still exists and is currently a retirement home. Most of the classic items from the hotel were auctioned off with the legendary behemoth stuffed black bear going to a local coffe shop.
Since the 40's the Varsity showcased many foreign and arthouse films, including classic Alec Guinness movies. It neighbored the original Haddad's restaurant and a dry cleaners. That block including many homes were demolished in 1989/90 to make room for Campustown strip mall on Main Street. I remember seeing Hellraiser there which has lovely scenes of humans dangling from fish hooks. Also Howard the Duck played there. So much for the arthouse audience in the 80's.
As we all recalled, this is the location of Sandy’s on Sheridan near Lake. There was another on McClure that later became a Hardees. Dairy Queen has been here for at least 30 years, serving up cones instead of Hi-Lo’s and fifteen cent burgers.
The grand daddy of area drive-ins from the 50's to 80's. Many bleary eyed triple features, packing trunks of cars with teens to beat admission fees. Still a teen hangout now housing Soderstrom Dermatologist.
Classic local taco house, changing owners and renamed with still tasty Mexican fare in the same remodled building on University in Pioneer Park.
Just razed last year, the iconic paiting of Hamm's Bear, Sasha, resided on the exterior side wall for decades. Fortunately, Phil Luciano retained part of the cinder block mural and it resides in his garage. Aldi's grocery store recently opened at this spot on University across the street from anothe re-habbed Chinese reastaurant or as Peoria old timers say "The old Shakey's pizza joint."
A classic that still exists! The only difference is instead of Bergan students working there, Lou's now has Notre Dame kids serving up the hot dogs and root beer. It remains at its original location on Knoxville near Lake. Once in a while, it’s refreshing to see that some things remain the same.