Mike’s Tavern is one of my favorite spots in Peoria. It’s one of the city’s oldest and most beloved neighborhood taverns in West Peoria and it’s the quintessential Peoria dive bar. Mike’s is loaded with vintage bar signs, memorabilia and artifacts that have been collected through the years. It’s also got a vintage beer can and bottle collection behind the bar that’s completely unique to Mike’s Tavern and it’s worth the trip alone to go and take a look at. So let’s go and have a gander at that collection while we spend another lovely evening at one of Peoria’s classic bars, Mike’s Tavern!
Here we are at Mike’s Tavern in West Peoria. This tavern has been standing here in the same spot for over a half a dozen decades and continues to be a favorite watering hole in West Peoria! If you’ve never been to Mike’s Tavern you’re missing out on a part of this city’s history and you need to get over here, take a look, make some new friends and have a drink here!
Well, it’s a little slow tonight, but that’s okay, it’s always a good time in Mike’s, even if there’s just a couple of people in here. And let’s go say hi to the couple of people in here right now.
That’s Roy in the first photo, Roy’s wife, Shannon is the owner of Mike’s Tavern after her dad Tony Ward passed away in 2011. Shannon and Roy have kept the place running smooth and I know that Tony would be pleased and proud of the way they’ve kept this legendary West Peoria tavern alive. Luke is bartending tonight and in addition to his quick and friendly bartending skills, Luke is also a full time freelance writer with published national bylines. You can check out his work at his expansive website that includes all of his writing, personal reflections, photos, podcasts and more. Click here to peruse Luke’s website and work: The Luke Norris Experience.
There’s Luke taking a break, so while he’s doing that, we’ll take a look around in here!
There's classic beer signs in here ranging from Busch Beer to Michelob to Budweiser and speaking of Budweiser, there’s a vintage Budweiser trolley that spins over the bar. Opposite the bar is a row of desks known as “death row,” at Mike’s. If you don’t know the meaning behind this...well, you’ll just have to go and see if one of the regulars will explain it to you! There’s a picture of Tony Ward on the paneled wall who owned the tavern for decades and a sign saying that he’ll always be missed and he is. Nice to know that his memory is kept alive at Mike’s Tavern though!
I spy something on the other side of the bar that you rarely see these days, a pay phone! Nice to see that in these days where everyone is staring at their phones rather than looking around and appreciating the things in their surroundings.
This back room also has a row of gaming machines and in the back is Mike’s “Corporate Headquarters!” And no worries, this Corporate Headquarters isn’t moving to Chicago!
Meanwhile, back at the bar, Luke is still holding down the fort. He said I could go back and take some photos of the many items on display back there. First off is the two sets of taps that supply the draft beer in here. These are impressive to me, because I remember the days...or should I say nights, where the most exotic thing you could get in here was a beer and a shot! There’s a fellow next to the taps that has been standing guard in here for years. Roy and Shannon’s wedding announcement is tacked up back along with race cars, baseball bobble-heads, a vintage menu from Kramers and the world’s biggest Mike’s Tavern drink chip!
Greg drove in from Lincoln to visit Luke at Mike’s and seeing him hold up that beer can makes me remember what I wanted to spotlight here tonight...
The Legendary Behind The Bar Vintage Beer Can & Bottle Collection At Mike’s Tavern!
This somewhat ever-changing collection of beer cans and bottles has been back here for as long as I can remember. But, as my tired, old joke goes, I don’t remember last night, so it might have just started last week! But with all that dust there, I doubt it! Let’s take a closer look at it.
I love the can of Schlitz beer and look at the Gold “reduced alcohol” beer. I can’t imagine that was a big seller in here! I’m guessing that green can of Miller Lite is leftover from a St. Patrick’s Day way back when.
This is just a sampling of some of the cans and bottles in this collection. The Peoria Riverfront Museum should really give this a proper display sometime...but then they’d probably knock all of the dust off of it, so on second thought it’s best keeping it right here where it belongs, behind the bar at Mike’s Tavern. An there in the center of the bottom photo is a vintage bottle of Zima, which I’ve read is making a comeback. Proving that everything comes around full circle, except for Mike’s Tavern, because it’s never gone away!
If you’ve never been to Peoria’s longest-running and most original dive bar, you really need to go and have a beer and a look around. And if you have been here but haven’t stopped by in a while, stop on by, have a beer or three and help keep this classic Peoria neighborhood tavern alive and well! Cheers and we’ll see you all tomorrow!
626 N Cedar Avenue
(The telephone number is a secret, I know it, but I’ll never tell!)