Both The Owl’s Nest and The Tartan Inn are legendary West Peoria Taverns that are just across the street from one another. I haven’t been to either one of those places in quite a while. So tonight we kill one bird...an owl that is and one tartan with no stones as we have a double-dose of bar-crawling on this Thursday evening! First stop...
The Owl’s Nest
Here we are at the Owl’s Nest. I first starting stopping in here way back in the 70’s. This is one of the few bars I never got thrown out of back in those hazy and crazy days!
Okay, let’s go in and begin this week’s Thursday evening!
One of the signs of a classic dive bar is Christmas lights all year round and The Owl’s Nest definitely always has that going on in here! I’m a little early in the evening, so there’s plenty of seats at the bar and as I settle in, I met Megan the friendly bartender on duty armed with an ice-cold bottle of beer and a pretty smile! The night’s off to a great start!
I saw some familiar faces at the bar, there’s Banjo and Jo Ann, two West Peoria tavern regulars! They’re two of the nicest people on earth and I always love seeing them! Eric has on his Hofbrau hat and said that’s where he was this afternoon, no wonder he’s got such a big smile on his face! The Hofbrau is another place I need to return to!
Megan let me go behind the bar to get a shot of the quartet of taps back there and Spuds MacKenzie was lurking nearby. There’s the Thursday night specials happening in here, including all you can eat fried chicken. The Owl’s Nest has a full-service kitchen and I need to come back and try out the food, maybe this will be a Saturday Night dinner stop in the future!
Here’s a shot of the bar from the back of the front room and above those Christmas lights is an infamous street sign from Peoria’s past: Aiken Alley. If you’re not familiar with that alley, well, you’re a lot younger than me! There’s another room right beyond that doorway over there. Let’s go check it out.
There’s dining tables in the back near the kitchen area ad a pool table up front near the gaming machines. I’ve always loved the wooden bar lit up with vintage stained glass lamps that separate the two rooms.
The stage up here near the front door means we’ve come full circle in here. Time to say: “Goodnight, Owl,” and now it’s time to move on to the next stop of the evening...
The Tartan Inn
We’ve crossed the street and are now standing in front of The Tartan Inn. I’m not sure which bar has been standing here the longest, The Owl’s Nest or The Tartan Inn. Anybody out there know? Leave a comment if you do!
I met Natasha even before I went in. She was getting some fresh air out on the stoop and told me she’s read the MBIP blog. Really nice to meet her and then John and PJ came ambling out of the bar. They were just on their way home, so I’m glad I got to see them on the stoop and get a photo of them before they left! It’s almost 9PM, they’re out late tonight! (Inside joke alert!) Okay, let’s go in and start part two of tonight’s evening here in West Peoria!
There’s a decent crowd in here at the bar and behind the bar is Brad, who’s the owner of Tartan Inn. I think Brad has owned the place about four years now and he’s really turned the place around. They now have a full-service kitchen with lunch and dinner and a Sunday brunch that’s unbelievable! There’s the drafts on tap at the bar and look at the Happy Birthday sign for Petey, a legendary West Peoria character who was featured on MBIP many times. Happy Birthday, Petey!
Here’s a shot from the other side of the bar and there’s the kitchen in the back. Gaming machines sit opposite the bar and I met Manny and John and it turns out that Manny is George Manias’ brother! George runs George’s Shoeshine downtown and you can check out a blog I’ve done from there here. It was Manny’s birthday and he and John were out celebrating, Happy Birthday, Manny! There’s tables lined up along the far wall with a view of Waverly Avenue outside.
Britnee was not only hanging out with Jeremy David Baker, she was wearing one of his t-shirts! If you listen to WWCT, you’ve probably heard Jeremy’s music as he’s in rotation at that station. Jeremy records for Green Shoe Records and you can read his profile and check out his music right here. Check out this video of Jeremy singing the title song from his “Gunshots and Gavels” album. It’s from the Apollo Theatre and I love this song and video! Every Thursday there’s live music here at Tartan Inn and Jeremy plays here some weeks, but this week he was just hanging out, keep on scrolling to see who’s on stage here tonight!
There’s Gavra and Tim and it’s always great to see them! It’s been a while and it was nice to catch up with both of them! Gavra bartends here at Tartan Inn and she not only serves up drinks, she sells her own, custom-made, precision-built hula hoops! She’s also an expert hula-hooper and here she is in action! Nice work, Gavra! Gavra’s also a singer and songwriter and here she is singing, “Fire” at the Red Barn a few years ago.
Before I left and called it a night, I went back to the bar to say goodnight to Brad and he introduced me to Jennifer who had taken over bartending duties! Thanks to everyone at both The Owl’s Nest and Tartan Inn for a night of double fun in West Peoria! We’ll see you all tomorrow!
2128 W. Callender Avenue
428 N. Waverly Avenue