Life is filled with weird coincidental happenings and I recently had one of these, let me explain.
A couple of weeks ago I was riding in a car with my friend and co-owner of Emack and Bolio’s, Tim Hennessey. Out of the blue he asked me this following question: “Whatever happened to Lisa Odum?”
I told him that I hadn’t seen Lisa since I came home for a visit after I had moved to New York in 1993. Lisa and I went out that night and had a blast along with a lot of drinks! Ha! It was a great night, I went back to New York and we talked a few times after that on the phone, most notably after September, 11th in 2001 and then we totally lost touch with each other.
Back in the early ‘90’s when I was publishing and editing my magazine People Of Peoria (later shortened to POP), Jay Goldberg came in to help with the business side of things and became the publisher for the last year of the magazine. One of the things Jay did was get us an office in an office building downtown. Lisa was the receptionist and the office manager for the building. My favorite thing about having the office there was going in and hanging out with Lisa in her office. Lisa’s not only fun to talk to and kid around with, but she’s also one of the prettiest women I’ve ever known, so I was always saying goofy flirty things to her and she would good-naturedly tell me to get lost! We had a lot of laughs and fun in that office building. And when we went out in 1993, it was such a fun night and resulted in her calling me the next morning and kiddingly asking: “So, I’m not, you know, like your girlfriend now am I?” Ha ha ha!
After Tim asked me about her I started thinking about Lisa and wondered what she was up to these days. I had heard she moved out of Peoria and thought about her a lot in the following couple of weeks.
On July 18th, out of the blue I got an email and the subject line read: “Meanwhile Back In Peoria.” Here’s what the email said: “Heya Marty! I just saw this blog. Are you back in Peoria??” And it was from Lisa! I couldn’t believe it! How kooky is that?
We emailed back and forth and I found out she’s living in Champaign now and she told me she’d be in Peoria for work and we decided to have lunch and meet up after not seeing each other for over 22 years! Lisa suggested we go to Jonah’s Seafood House and Oyster Bar in East Peoria and that was a great selection because I haven’t been there in decades and have meant to go and check it out. And so, let’s go check it out and reunite with Lisa!
Here we are at Jonah’s Seafood House and Oyster Bar. It’s a lot bigger than I remember.
And it was established back in 1986. My how the beers...I mean the years have flown by!
Let’s go in and see what’s happening inside.
I love all the wood in here, nice and rustic! Let’s go over to the hostess station and say hello.
Hello! This pretty lady is Amira and she said we could sit wherever we wanted. I love that so let’s go find a place to sit.
Well now, look at this, it’s the bar and it’s empty! The perfect spot to grab a seat, so let’s do just that and get settled in while we wait for Lisa to show up.
This is Stefon, the friendly bartender serving up a glass of iced tea. I have to work in a few hours, so no beer for me until the end of my shift.
Wow, they really serve up a fancy-schmancy Iced-tea in here. They even have a wedge of pineapple on the glass. Nice!
Here’s the view of the back of the bar from where I’m seated.
Stefon said I couldn’t go behind the bar, so he took this shot of the two taps back there. Nice work, Stefon!
There’s lots of wine in here, I wonder if any of them are Lisa’s? She works for Maverick Wine Company and Jonah's is one of her accounts.
More wine on ice over here. Brrrrr!
Jonah’s has an Oyster Bar, let’s go take a look at that.
Here’s a few islands and window tables that greet you as you make your way to...
The Oyster Bar! Very cool!
There’s booths over here opposite the bar. And I just got a text from Lisa saying she’s going to be a little late due to a business meeting at Unclaimed Freight Store lasting longer than she thought. Speaking of Lisa, I’m like nervous out of my skin about this. It’s been 22 years and we always got along so good and I always enjoyed just being around her, I’m really hoping this isn't awkward and that we no longer have anything to say to each other. Oh well, there’s no turning back now, let’s continue to look around in here. I need to quit worrying, but that’ll never happen. At least not in my lifetime!
Back in the day they used to broadcast a radio show from here I was told. The should do a podcast in here now! Just a suggestion!
Here’s the main dining room, really spacious in here!
This is a little dining nook off to the side. I really like typing the words, “dining nook,” so this made my day!
Love this vintage steamboat photo!
Here’s an enclosed patio area over here, let’s go have a look.
It’s nice here, but way too bright! Too much sunshine in this place! Must...retreat...to...
The bar! Nice and dark in here!
I love the wooden slats on the window here keeping out that foul sunshine!
I’m hoping that Lisa wants to eat lunch here in this room just behind the bar. In fact I’ve already picked out our table...
Okay, this is how weird I am. I’ve already decided that if we don’t sit at this table, nothing will go as I’m hoping it will go. I want Lisa to sit in the chair next to the wall and I’ll sit next to her. If all this happens, then I think things will be good and our lunch will carry on happily ever after. Yes, this is how nuts I am!
Alright, I’m just going to drink my iced tea and stare at this pile of napkins and be nervous until Lisa gets here.
Hooray, look who’s finally here, Lisa Odum! She hasn't changed one little bit and even looks prettier than I remember! This isn’t fair at all, because the 22 years we haven’t seen each other are certainly reflected on my face and body! I was nervous because we always got along so good and I’ve always loved talking with Lisa and I was afraid that after all these years it might be weird or awkward. But it wasn’t at all. In fact we both said it was kind of like only a day had passed since we last saw each other. Lisa lives in Champaign now and is a Dealer/Wine Consultant for the Maverick Wine Company which is located in Bensenville, Illinois, near the Chicago O'Hare Airport. Lisa’s been working in the wine industry since 2001 and she’s the only Dealer for Maverick servicing the Central Illinois area. Her office in Champaign is known as, “Maverick South.” She told me that she’s done business with Jonah’s manager Dan Ralph since 2001 and he was one of the first people who gave her a chance when she first started out as a wine sales rep. It is so great to see her again!
After being amazed at how beautiful Lisa looks, I looked down at her feet and saw this toe ring! I had to take a picture of that because I’ve never known anyone that has a toe ring! Too cool! And her toes are just as cute as she still is! After that we sat at the table I was hoping we were going to sit at and talked non-stop and had lunch. I was so blown-away seeing Lisa again that I forgot to take photos of our lunch! But here’s what we had: Lisa had a half portion of the Seven Layer Salad and a cup of “Chumbo.” What that is, is half Gumbo and half Chowder. This isn’t on the menu, you just have to be in the know to order it and now thanks to Lisa we all know about it! I had a house salad and the Bayou Style Jambalaya. The Jambalaya was a nice spicy mix of shrimp, Andouille sausage, peppers, onion and Jasmine rice served in a rich and tangy soup base. The food here is even better than I remembered.
Here we are, together again! It was so great to hang out with Lisa after all these years have passed by! Since the lunch happened we’ve really rekindled our friendship via emails and phone calls and it’s so nice to be friends with Lisa again! And no, she’s not my girlfriend, but she’s a really wonderful person to have as a friend and that’s even better! I really feel lucky and happy that we’ve reconnected after all of these years! You’ll definitely be seeing Lisa again here on MBIP! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
Maverick Wine Company
1101 N Ellis Ave.
Bensenville, IL 60106