Now and again I turn to Justin Glawe’s retired bar blog, Peoria Bar Review, when I’m looking for a tavern I’ve never visited in Peoria. I was looking at entry’s over there yesterday and found a post on a place called The Garden Gate Tap. Justin has marked this as a “Peoria Institution” and it has the unlucky, Munster-like address of 1313 W. Garden Street. Let’s go grab a couple of beers there and check this bar out.
So I started out downtown and punched 1313 Garden Street into my GPS system. Well, for some reason the GPS freaked out because of construction on Washington Street and started sending me round and round in circles. This was very frustrating, so I pulled over and called Garden Gate Tap and the man who answered gave me directions to the bar.
I'm not very good with directions and couldn't find Garden Street to save my life. So I called the bar back, got the same fellow on the phone and I apologized and told him I couldn't find it. I told him if it was any consolation, I had a huge bag of popcorn with me and he said he'd direct me to the bar. So off I went with him telling me where to go as I drove down Jefferson Street in downtown Peoria.
And here we are! That's the owner of Garden Gate Tap, Bob who directed us there, greeting us.
This bar is mainly a "regulars" only bar, so I was eyeballed a little suspiciously as I sauntered in the front door. Taking a picture of everyone didn't help matters.
But I plopped my giant bag of popcorn on the bar, said hello to everyone and it turned friendly in there immediately. Amazing what a giant bag of popcorn will do! I may never leave home without one again!
Bob and Tonya, the pretty bartender on duty serve me up a beer and made some introductions around the bar.
These are my neighbors at the bar, Lynn and Joyce. They told me that everyone in here is like family. It's a very friendly vibe in here.
Here's the view of the bar from my perch.
Another shot of the bar from the center of it. This place is a classic dark, downtown Peoria bar.
Directly behind the bar is a row of tables to sit at, there's Joyce at the end of them.
There's a Budweiser blimp hanging over the tables.
You know you're in a classic bar when you see a working pay phone, something that's becoming extinct in this day and age.
A shuffleboard table lines the entire back wall. This is one of the longest shuffleboard tables I've ever seen!
I'd abbreviate this sign to, "No Children," but that's just me.
A picture of Bob and his mom Sharon hangs over the shuffleboard table.
A shot from the end of the bar.
There's a stage up in the front with drums and guitars. Bob told me that every Sunday a jam session starts around 2PM goes on into the night. I've got to check that out soon!
Here's Bob holding a photo of the bar from back in 1940. It's been standing here in the same location ever since.
A close up shot of the photo of the bar back in 1940. Bob's parents bought the bar in 1987 and Bob is now the owner of The Garden Gate Tap. This bar is really a slice of Peoria history.
The Garden Gate Tap has karaoke every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. Here's Bob singing a song. The bar has an impressive 133,000 songs in the karaoke system to choose from.
Everyone is getting into Bob's singing.
It's quite a festive mood in here!
After Bob finished the song, everyone in the bar agreed to pose for a group shot for the MBIP camera. These are some of the nicest people in the world, stop by and say hi when you get a chance, you won't be sorry. But take my advice and bring a giant bag of popcorn as an ice breaker, it makes you an instant regular in the joint!
After the group shot, Tonya pours a parting shot for Bob and I.
As I walked out to my car, Bob showed me the Garden Street Cafe next door, which he also owns. We'll be having a Contributor's Lunch from there next week, so stay tuned for that! See you all tomorrow...and hey, let's be careful out there!
Bonus Photos of Lex and Spike!
My friend Lex is visiting New York City and she met up with MBIP pal, commenter and rater of taps, Spike and his wife, Sacha, A.K.A. Mrs. Spike. Here’s three photos Mrs. Spike took on the roof of their apartment building of Lex and Spike! Great to see you guys, miss you! Cheers from Peoria!