Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Town Theatre

Growing up in Chillicothe, I saw many movies at the Town Theatre on Second Street right downtown.
I can even remember when we would make a stop at Ben Franklin first, for some movie munchies.
The theater is dubbed an original art deco theater, and still shows new release movies at a great price.
Opened in the 1920s as the Sunset Theatre, the theater became known as the Town in 1946, when it was taken over by the Kerasotes chain. Today, the theater is owned by Reynolds.
I remember when there was only one screen. Some time during the 1980s, they built a wall down the middle and spit the theater into two screens. Sometimes, you could hear kids running up and down the aisle in the adjoining theater. But once the show started, all was good.
A friend of ours says she saw A Christmas Story for the first time at the Town Theatre. Too bad my memory isn't as good; all I remember is that I have seen a lot of great movies there.

May 2010 — The Optimist Club purchased the theater last winter and may already be finished installing new seating.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Another one bites the dust

Fraochán reported some sad news to me yesterday: she and her husband had stopped in to Mocha Joe's Beanery in the Metro Centre in Peoria to pick up some Snickerdoodle coffee, only to find out that the shop is going out of business.
Mocha Joe's was one of the first great espresso/cappuccino shops in Peoria. When my friends and I started driving to the big city of Peoria, we would hang out at Mocha Joe's drinking chocolatey mochas and shoot the breeze. We always had a blast there, and I continued to stop there for many years after, for gifts or for a good cup of coffee.
I am sorry to see them go.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Babbitt's Books

I recently had the pleasure of visiting a great bookstore, Babbitt's Books, 119 E. Beaufort Street in Normal.
Babbitt's Books, selling books locally since the later 1980s, is stuffed floor to very high ceiling with thousands and thousands of used books. There are gently used books, and historic books, cookbooks, poetry books, fiction and history, and so much more.
Overwhelmed by the selection or can't make it to the shop? Search for a book in their inventory on the Babbitt's Books web site, or even view the covers of books through their online gallery.
If you do stop in, the shop keepers will be happy to help you locate a book, and seem to truly love these well worn volumes.
I walked away with a lovely little book from 1904 that will be a nice addition to our household.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Round up

We've got some potentially good news on the horizon here at home, so that's a positive.

On the business front, this week sent us to many of our regular haunts: the C Note in Washington, and Sullivan's and the Hofbrau in Peoria, most for holiday cheer, one for dinner. We also went to a chain, IHOP, for convenience sake on a time crunch, and it was disappointing. Just reinforces my idea of staying local.
I made it to the River Beach Pub for a visit, which was fun, and we had a nice lunch again at Basil's in Washington. They hope to have their liquor license soon, but you can bring wine and beer in during the interim.

I've heard rumors of local businesses closing, and of some new ones on the horizon. I'm keeping an eye on the local front, and will post what I find out.

The holidays have taken an expected turn, but we still hope to head south right after Christmas, maybe Memphis and beyond, for good food and great music.
As always, I'll blog anything locally owned.
Wishing everyone a great Christmas, holiday and new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


The last month of the year, when most of our thoughts turn to the holidays, this time for me has been full of thoughts of former coworkers who lost their jobs in the last two weeks, friends facing the loss of relatives, and people close to me with job uncertainty.
In the spirit of this blog, here's hoping 2008 is a great year for local businesses, but also for those I know and care about.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pleasant Hill Antique Mall and Tea Room

A couple years back, a friend of ours claimed he had the "best steak ever" at Pleasant Hill Antique Mall Tea Room, 315 S. Pleasant Hill Road in East Peoria. I've yet to try the steaks, but it's an interesting claim.
This weekend, StfRon and I enjoyed breakfast in the tearoom at the mall. The crowd wasn't huge, but not terrible, either, considering the snowfall, and the later breakfast hour.
Our waitress came over right away, before I perused the drink menu and asked if we wanted coffee, so instead of making her wait, I said yes. Normally, since I had coffee at home, I probably would have had some sort of juice. But, much to my surprise, they had a decent cup of Joe here. Some breakfast places seem to chintz out on the coffee. I'd rather drink juice or chocolate milk than subpar coffee, but this was good.
Trying to be good, I went with oatmeal and wheat toast, with a side of brown sugar. To hell with being good, StfRon ordered biscuits and gravy with a side of corned beef hash, which of course, for the sake of blogging, I sampled.
Our food came out very quickly, which was good because we were very hungry. The gravy with the biscuits was not your standard fare, quite tasty. The hash was a little different, too. We couldn't tell if it was homemade, but it was good.
My toast was nicely doused with a butter or butter-like substance, and smeared with strawberry jam, was good. The oatmeal was piping hot and not too thick.
The two waitresses we saw were hustling, and didn't have a lot of time to run by with the coffee pot, but did a great job nonetheless.
After our breakfast, which set us back around $12 before tip, we spent about an hour browsing through booth after booth of furniture and collectibles.
Pleasant Hill Antique Mall seemed huge on this visit. By the time I got to the third section of the building, I was sure they had added on, but StfRon assured me they had not.
We saw a few blast from the past toys and books, and lots of neat furniture. Despite their name, not everything sold here is from Grandma's attic; there is newer merchandise throughout, too.
All in all, this was a great way to spend a chilly morning.

On a side note, we finally put up our tree this evening. I got the tree (made in USA) last year on sale after Christmas, from Christmas Depot. If you're looking on their site, scroll down on the left sidebar and look for made in USA or click on the banner ad right below the text links on the left sidebar.
I also got some new lights for half price last year, the LED clear strands of lights. Whoa, are these lights psychedelic!! While stringing them up to drape on the tree, they were pulsing in some sort of strobe effect. Once they were on the tree, they stopped pulsing, but they have an odd bluish purple light to them. Our dining room looks like it's bathed in blacklight or something.
I'm sure we'll get used to it. If other people make the switch to LED lights, ours won't look so out of place, either. And, I can leave them on longer and not feel like I'm going to send the CILCO bill sky high.

August, 2009 — The tea room in the antique mall has closed.

Monday, December 17, 2007

You Dirty Dog

The four legged member of our family needed a good dolling up for the holidays, so we took her to You Dirty Dog in Morton to be fluffed and buffed.
This was our first time in the shop, and we had heard that all of their merchandise and treats are made in the USA, which drew our attention even more.
Oh, my! This place has a large, double door wall case full of treats that look so good, a human would be salivating! They also have collars, keychains, toys and more.
We dropped Miss Thang (not her real name, really) off for her appointment. We were asked if she sheds (boy, does she ever), and headed off to dinner.
About an hour later, we stopped by to pick her up, and she was shiny and fresh smelling, and had a holiday collar cover on to boot! Mark said they had gotten a lot of hair off of her, which will be a big plus.
As we chatted with the owners, our dog kept trying to stick her snout in between the two doors of the glass case o' treats and take a big whiff.
This seems like a great crew of people, and they enjoy geocaching, too, so that's another plus with us.
You Dirty Dog is open Mondays from 1-8 p.m., Wed.-Fri. 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m.-noon. They plan to have a web site up soon.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Round up

This week so far I've enjoyed lunch at Cyd's in Junction City in Peoria (now selling fresh-squeezed orange juice, at a premium, but I will have to try it); savored a bowl of sizzling rice soup and some crab rangoon at Yen Ching on University Street in Peoria; noted the breakfast sign is displayed again at Euro Jack's on Main Street in Peoria, serving breakfast from 6-11 a.m.; my interest was piqued when I heard about the prospect of some sort of a wine bar at the corner of State and Water Streets in Peoria; and my future plans include a trip to Pleasant Hill Antique Mall and Maurie's Candies in Pekin; and a holiday bath for our dog at You Dirty Dog in Morton.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pita's Mediterranean Wraps

If you've never tried fresh baked pita bread, you'd better head on over to Pita's Mediterranean Wraps right now.
Pita's, located in the Northpoint Shopping Center on Knoxville Avenue in Peoria, serves Mediterranean delights like hummus, falafel, Greek salads, kabobs, gyros and more.
Pita's also offers daily specials on weekdays.
I love the warm, soft, pita bread, especially with some hummus. And if I finish my meal off with some baklava, all is good.

January, 2009 — I visited Pita's to pick up some hummus for a party. I like the updated decor, and the hummus and pitas were a huge hit!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Holiday Presence

One of the newer additions to the square in Washington is Holiday Presence.
This shop used to be on the Eureka end of the square, next to the Tally Ho's location, but moved several months ago to the location at 120 N. Main Street.
Holiday Presence carries gifts and decor for any holiday.
From fun, retro-styled tin signs and tin sign clocks from the Liberty Sign Company to coffee roasted fresh in Washington, to kitchen gadgets, and even some apparel, the shop has a nice selection of goods.
One thing that caught my eye was a rectangle Peggy Karr Glass plate, made in the USA, featuring a cluster of brightly colored poppy-like flowers. It seemed unusual that this would attract me, because typically I like neutral, earth toned decor, but the vivid colors against the green really appealed to me. There are several other designs of glass, too.
Another thing that fascinated me were some candles along the wall called WoodWick. The story with WoodWick is that the wick is made from natural, organic wood, and when it burns it is supposed to sound like a crackling fire. The candles also come with a wooden lid.
They also had some cool little mice toys stuffed with organic catnip, great for your furry feline friends. The mice are made in the USA.
If you've got holiday needs, or needs for presents, give Holiday Presence a try.

Purple Moose opened in October 2012 in the former Holiday Presence location.

I Know you Like a Book

I've dreamed for years of someday owning my own book store, and I Know you Like a Book is everything I would love my store to be, and more.
I opened the door at 4707 N. Prospect Road in Peoria Heights and stepped in off the street into this little sanctuary. The door closed behind me, and the woman behind the counter greeted me. About 15 seconds after my arrival, Ringo, the wiener dog, popped off his bed beside the counter, gave a single "Woof" and trotted over to greet me.
The walls are lined floor to ceiling with wooden bookcases done in a charcoal finish, and they have a built in appearance.
I Know you Like a Book sells new and used books, mixed together on the shelves. The used books are marked with handwritten price stickers on the back cover.
There are a few rooms of books, and each hallway is lined with bookshelves as well.
In one corner, there is a caraffe of coffee to enjoy while you browse.
The shop also carries the StoryTeller's Blends, a Leaves-n-Beans venture pairing special coffees with novels.
In the farthest room from the entrance, there is an attractive grouping of chairs, and a counter set up for wine tasting. Now this is genius. In all my wildest dreams, I never thought of serving wine in my imaginary book store, but it's a perfect fit for me.
I was in the store to look for a book for a Christmas gift, but I didn't see anything that struck me for this person. However, I did find a new book that sounded interesting for myself, so Merry Christmas to me, I guess!
Typically I pay for anything over $15 with my credit card, because I rarely carry cash (and I reap nice rewards from my credit card), but heading to the cash register, it struck me that a small business owner would more directly feel the cost of credit card acceptance, so I paid cash, said no thanks to a bag to carry my book in, and headed out into the falling snow.

Holiday happenings

Looking to have some the holiday fun this weekend? Here are a few local events to check out:

Holiday Shop & Stroll, Forest Park Nature Center — December 7 from 6-8:30, enjoy an evening stroll on the luminaria lit forest trail, live holiday music, storytelling, hot wassail and goodies, and shopping. $2.

Holiday Cruise, Spirit of Peoria — December 7 from 6-8:30 p.m., take a two-hour cruise (a two-hour cruise) featuring a hot buffet and musical entertainment. $38 for adults.

Folepi's Laser Theatre, Festival Building, East Peoria — December 7 at 6, 7 and 8 p.m., laser lights and images are set to holiday music.

Christmas on Court, Downtown Pekin — December 7 from 5-8 p.m., see Santa, take carriage rides, enjoy strolling carolers, skits and luminaries.

Candlelight Walks, Luthy Botanical Garden — December 7 & 8 from 7-9 p.m., see the poinsettia show under the glow of candlelight, while being serenaded with live music.

Christmas Concert, Forest Park Nature Center — December 8 at 7 p.m., listen to the music and stories of Tom and Chris Kastle. $7.

Road trip

We recently went to Milwaukee for a short getaway. We try to make it up there a few times a year, and one of our traditions while in town is to hit the Alterra Coffee, on Lincoln Memorial Drive along the lakefront.
Alterra is a local coffee roaster, and this location utilizes an old river flushing station to house a neat coffee shop and storefront.
Alterra roasts some varieties of Fair Trade Certified coffee, on top of working in an eco-friendly manner. Using recycled materials, geothermal climate control, and renewable energy, Alterra stands out for its conservation efforts. They have also recently become part of a local business alliance, which you can find out more about here.
I've enjoyed things like baked oatmeal, granola, breakfast burritos and fresh squeezed orange juice here, in addition to great coffee.
This time I was thinking they needed to speed up the coffee serving production line, but when I was served this artistic cuppa joe, I changed my mind. Very nice.

On our way back through Illinois, we stopped to look for some lunch. We took an exit into Rochelle and passed up the Iron Skillet. We ended up stopping at an older place called The Country School restaurant, which featured a red school house sign. The food was standard fast food fare, and our server informed us that they are known for the chicken and cole slaw, but we had already ordered burgers and onion rings.
The burgers were good, and as I sat and enjoyed mine, I started out the window at the new McDonalds next door and was pleased to see several cars drive in to The Country School drive-thru lane, even at 2:30 in the afternoon on a week day.

On our way back to the Interstate, I spotted Vince the chef of Vince's Pizza, and we drove by to check him out. Old Vince looked a little scared on this cloudy day, but looks like he serves up a big pizza pie.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ming Shee

I hadn't been to Ming Shee, 3510 N. University Street in Peoria, for quite some time until visiting this week.
The dining area has a few booths and tables, so if you decide to eat in, there will most likely be a place to sit. On the day StfRon and I stopped in, there were a couple of tables open.
I checked out the large color photos on the board, and went with the Hunan chicken lunch special, served with an egg roll, a piece of crab rangoon and fried rice.
The Hunan chicken was good, the crab rangoon was full of cream cheese and onion flavor, and the egg roll was filled with crisp cabbage. Everything was served piping hot.
StfRon had the General Tso's chicken special, which came with the same sides.
With a couple of large iced teas, our bill was about $13.
Ming Shee also offers carryout and catering, and has a Bartonville location on Garfield Avenue.

October, 2009 — I still visit Ming Shee several times a month. They now serve bubble milk tea, which is an interesting treat.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


We've heard talk of Sullivan's Friday happy hour for quite some time, and finally made a point to stop in recently.
Sullivan's, located at 631 Main Street in Peoria, is one of my favorite bars. Especially during the holidays. Sully really knows how to deck the halls.
And, Sully knows how to put on a happy hour spread! On the night we were in, there were hot dogs, brats, fried chicken, veggies, cheese, crackers and more.
The bartenders we've encountered at Sullivan's are a classy crew, quick to pull up another beer or grill up a great burger or tuna steak sandwich.
I also ran into Matt from the Bogside Zukes, and he said they will be playing at Sullivan's on December 20.
I almost hesitate to click "Publish Post" on this entry, because I don't want hordes of people crowding in there and eating all the goodies and taking all the good seats, but it's a great hangout, and I must share the news!

12/31/07 - Sullivan's has changed ownership