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Showing posts with label Back Bar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Back Bar. Show all posts

Monday, December 04, 2023

#5500 - Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN - 11/24/23

The Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN
Painted sign said to date back to 1850 origins

I've added the Slippery Noodle Inn to my most favorite bars list for its history and for its current incarnation as a great blues hub. While headliners play in the back room, I enjoyed regulars Reverend Robert and Washboard Shorty, and learning the history of the place from enthusiastic bartender Zach, whose father once worked the place. 

It is such a staple of Indy nightlife and the blues scene that it has a mammoth list of past celebrities who have performed and or visited, e.g. Greg Allman, Billy Joel, John Mellencamp, Albert Collins, Edgar Winter, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, Harrison Ford, Dave Matthews, The Blues Brothers Band, John Entwistle, Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Neil Diamond, Robert DeNiro, Liza Minnelli, Harry Connick, Jr., and Spike Lee.

The Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN

The bar makes certain claims to being the oldest continually operating bar in the original building in the state of Indiana; and while this relies on us granting its history under several different names and beating out the Knickerbocker in Layfayette (est. 1935) in some way I don't quite understand, there's no questioning the great history of building and gin joints here. And with such antiquity it has been found, inevitably, to be haunted.

It was great to get all the pointers from Zach, but still the bar's website

Reverend Robert and Washboard Shorty
Slippery Noodle Inn, Indianapolis, IN

"The  Slippery Noodle Inn was originally founded in 1850 as the Tremont House. It is Indiana's oldest, continually operated bar in the original building. The Noodle is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Originally it was a roadhouse (predecessor to the Holiday Inn) and a bar. It has traditionally been owned by people of German descent and it was one of the first German clubs in Indianapolis. The Noodle has been through several name changes over the years. In the 1860's the name was changed to the Concordia House. This name came from the first German Lutheran immigrant ship to land in the new world (the Concord)....

In later years the name was changed to the Germania House. It remained the Germania House until the start of World War I at which time German associations were to be avoided so the owner, Louis Beck, changed the name to Beck's Saloon. Prior to Prohibition, Walter Moore purchased the saloon and named it Moore's Beer Tavern. During Prohibition it was renamed Moore's Restaurant (although beer was still made in the basement). After Prohibition ended in 1935, it was renamed Moore's Beer Tavern. In the late 1940’s Boris Petercheff purchased the saloon.... Boris ran the tavern until early 1963 when Emelia Finehout, the property owner, took over. She found out all too quickly that she did not enjoy running a tavern, and promptly put the business up for sale.

Harold and Lorean Yeagy (Hal’s parents) bought the bar in late 1963, taking final possession on December, Friday the 13th. The "Slippery Noodle Inn" was named by Hal's dad after a lengthy family debate (Hal was six years old). Names were thrown out for the family to vote on and at about 5 a.m. "Slippery Noodle Inn" sounded pretty darn good. The Noodle has remained in the Yeagy family since that time. Hal took over the bar in 1985 after his father's death and since that time it has grown from a one room lunch counter into the Midwest's premiere blues club. [Note: in March 2023 the bar was sold to Jason Amonett and Sean Lothridge.]   

The "Inn" has been used in all types of activities. In the Civil War years it was a way station for the Underground Railroad. Later years saw a bordello open in the once luxurious Inn. It remained open until 1953 when a patron was killed. Two customers of the bordello got into an argument over one of the women, one killing the other and leaving the bloody knife on the bar. During Prohibition the Brady & Dillinger gangs used the building in back, originally built as a horse stable for the Inn, for target practice. Several of the slugs remain embedded in the lower east wall. In addition to liquor and beer being distilled in the building, cattle and swine were slaughtered and butchered in the basement. The meat hooks and water lines can still be found in the basement.

The ceiling in the front barroom is made from pressed tin. It was installed circa 1890. The "tiger oak" bar and back bar are well over a 100 years old and believed to be original. The trough at the edge of the bar was used as the cash register in the olden days. The "honor" system worked or else the colt 45 did! The Noodle is the oldest commercial building left standing in Indianapolis and the Tremont House sign painted on the north side of the building dates back to the 1850's."

372 S Meridian St, Indianapolis, IN 46225 - (317) 631-6974
Est. Dec 7, 1963 (1850 as Tremont House) - Building constructed: year
Previous bars in this location: Tremont House, Concordia House, Germania House, Beck's Saloon, Moore's Beer Tavern
Web site: - facebook 
Articles ranked: thrillistcbs4indyindystar - yelp - tripadvisor - phantomhistory - breadedtenderloin - wikipedia - indyencyclopedia - hmdb (historical marker)

Sunday, December 03, 2023

#5498 - St. Elmo Steak House, Indianapolis, IN - 11/24/23

St. Elmo Steak House, Indianapolis, IN

St. Elmo Steak House was founded in 1902 in Braden's Block of Indianapolis, constructed in 1875. It is said to be the oldest steak house in the country. Founded under the St. Elmo name and run as a relatively modest tavern for most of its life, the business expanded into the neighboring building, upgraded the menu, and added a top class wine cellar in 1996. The vibe is very much classic steak house, which, of course, benefits from the historic setting.

The restaurant and lounge both contain antique back bars -- probably Brunswick, but not standard models. Both bars contain round columns around a single central section. The restaurant bar tops the columns with cherub-faced capitals (ala Brunswick models such as the "Los Angeles"). It has large, egg-shaped appliques on the corners. This Tiger-maple bar is said to have been imported from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. Similar but not identical models reside in Glascott's in Chicago and the Smokehouse Saloon in Greybull, WY. The model in the restaurant's "1933 Lounge" is considerably more simple, featuring some oddly shaped (cracked?) pieces in the top facade, and an unusually simple trim framing the central mirrors.

The upscale steak house of today attracts business people and has been a favorite of people like Peyton Manning and NFL owners. (At certain times of year it is described as "an extension of the NFL combine.) It has been named an American Classic by the James Beard Foundation. The cocktail menu is not particularly exciting, but contains several classics. We also sampled St. Elmo's famous shrimp cocktail -- four large shrimp covered with their signature, burn-out-your-nosehair-spicy cocktail sauce. According to Wikipedia the restaurant orders four tons of horseradish a year.

127 S Illinois St, Indianapolis, IN 46225 - (317) 635-0636
Est. 1902 - Building constructed: 1875
Previous bars in this location: None known
Web site: - facebook - 1933lounge 
Articles ranked: wikipedia - nytimes - varrtravel - abcnews - damonrichard - candacelately - columbiadailyheraldtastingtable - roadfood - gayoteindianapolismonthly - yelp - tripadvisor - frommers - hungrytravelers - forbesvisitindy - thrillist 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

#5037 - Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA - 3/9/2023

Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA

There was one other customer in Sullivan's when I stepped in on this afternoon, shortly after they opened. Of course it will be different on Friday and Saturday nights, when the bar routinely serves over 400 people, and most spectacularly on next Friday, as they block off the street and expect over 10,000 customers on St. Patricks Day.

These are a few of the bits of info I got from friendly bartender Julia. She also showed me the doorbell said to have been installed for the prohibition days, and the slightly scary ladder down a hole behind the bar to what used to be tunnels -- now sealed in -- and currently serves as beer storage, an office, and occasionally a way to for the bartender to get between rooms when the crowd is too thick. There is a brass bar at counter level in front of the hole now, which Julia explained was installed after the owner's wife fell down it (she apparently was not too badly injured).

Bartender Julia, Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA

The bar claims to be the seventh oldest Irish bar in the country (I found several older references to being the sixth oldest, so apparently there was a recent correction). It was established as a bar and as "Sullivan's" in 1905, in a building that tax records say was constructed in 1892. It was closed for 19 months due to COVID, and finally reopened, after some remodeling, Oct 15, 2021. It features an interesting back bar; the origins of it were not exactly clear, but it appears to have been obtained by the current owners. It is of a sort of art deco style, with metal plates on the columns featuring bas relief female figures.

Sullivan's Pub, Erie, PA
Hole behind the bar
All of his is set two to three blocks from the southwest shores of Lake Erie, and close to Gannon University, which tends to contribute more than its fair share of customers.

For a helpful history of the place, I'll quote from the bar's own web site:

"Sullivan’s Pub and Eatery is proud to be the oldest public house in Erie, serving the community since 1905.

The seventh oldest Irish bar in the United States, Sullivan’s has been a proud member of the Erie Downtown community since its opening in 1905 by prominent First Ward politician John L. Sullivan and his wife Alice. The Sullivan family were lifelong residents of the First Ward and members of St. Patrick’s church. Under the ownership of John and Alice, Sullivan’s became a central neighborhood hot spot and a pillar of the Erie Irish community.

In 1950, Margaret Sullivan Heinz, daughter of John and Alice, assumed ownership of the cafe. Margaret’s brother, Emmet J. “Jiggs” Sullivan, helped her run the cafe. Jiggs was a retired fireman from Fire Station #1 on French Street (formerly Pufferbelly), just two blocks from the cafe. It was during this time that people started recognizing Sullivan’s for having great food. Maggie and Jiggs served a menu consisting of Irish and American fare. The cafe was also known as the “Glue Pot” because once you went in, you couldn’t get out. In fact, one afternoon the firemen from Station #1 went into Sullivan’s for lunch and wound up staying all afternoon to play cards. When a building directly behind the firehouse went up in flames, the neighborhood had to rush down to Sullivan’s to drag the firemen out of the “Glue Pot”!

Doorbell said to have been installed 
for use during prohibition

In 1960, the Powers family, another Irish brood, purchased Sullivan’s. During this time, the cafe was a regular stop for many Hamot Hospital employees and Gannon College students. There were many that gathered at Happy Hour when Mr. Powers would appear from the kitchen with a large freshly baked ham and say with an Irish accent, “Well now, would anyone be wantin’ a bit O’ this delicious ham?” Then he would slice the ham into sandwiches which the patrons would pass down the length of the bar.

In 1989, the cafe was purchased by the present owners [Ron and Rick Filippi]. Intent upon preserving a part of Erie history, the group invested time, effort, and resources into completely restoring the century old building while retaining the Irish flavor that has been so popular in the Erie community. The present owners expanded the food menu, remodeled the dining room, kitchen, and added the dance floor."

301 French St, Erie, PA 16507 - (814) 452-3446
Est. 1905 - Building constructed: 1892
Previous bars in this location: None known 
Web site: - facebook 
Reviews: goerie - yelp - goerie 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

#4453 - Bube's Brewery, Mount Joy, PA - 1/9/2022

The smaller portion of Bube's Brewery at night
On the evening of January 9, 2022, while visiting some of the oldest bars in the state of Pennsylvania, I experienced one of the most extraordinary bar visits of my life at Bube's ("BOO-bees") Brewery, in Mount Joy, PA. Noting my astonished look, staff member Jeanbean volunteered to give me a personal tour. I really had no idea what the property contained, so I was continually stunned by the varied and beautiful features of the place. Down, down we went into the beer aging caves, past the "Catacombs" fine dining restaurant and the 2,000 gallon wooden barrels, to an eventual depth some 43 feet below the surface; then back up through the old cooper's shed, with its crammed museum of old beer-making artifacts; and further up to into the saloon room of the Victorian hotel, with its beautiful back bar, dazzling antique lamps, and other vintage appointments; then further through various group dining rooms, each with a unique and resplendent decor; and finally back down to the old Bottle Works room, now the main bar, where I sampled their brew and had a fine conversation with bartender Cory.

Constructed and founded as a brewery by Philip Frank in 1859, the operation was purchased by Bavarian trained employee Alois Bube in 1878, who went on to ambitiously expand it.

"In 1889 Bube (locals pronounced the name "BOObee") received financial backing from Philip Frank, the owner of a large malting operation across the street from the brewery. The brewery was expanded by digging large vaults throughout the property, on top of which a larger brewery was erected, as was the Central Hotel. Even after the expansion the brewery was not a large one, but it employed the most modern methods and was well equipped. Bube produced Pilsener and Bavarian beer, as well as ale and soft drinks.

Unfortunately, after Bube's death in 1908, the brewery was not as successful. The family tried to run the business, but sold it in 1914 to a Swedish brewer named John Hallgren. Hallgren's product was much lighter than Bube's and it never caught on with local tastes. A coal shortage in 1917, impending prohibition, and poor business conditions forced Hallgren to sell the brewery. In 1920 Henry Engle, son-in-law of Alois Bube, took over the property and operated the Central Hotel. Allen explained that during prohibition the brewery was used primarily as an ice plant, although he has heard rumours about some bootlegging, "nothing big like in Columbia or Lancaster."  (pabreweryhistorians
Bube's Brewery, Mount Joy, PA

The amazing, museum-like vintage qualities of the place are explained by its usage -- and lack thereof -- over the half century following the advent of prohibition:

"Lancaster County, Pennsylvania: At the time, it was known as the “Munich of the New World” due to its thriving German beer scene. Over the years, Bube built his establishment into a beer behemoth, with a labyrinthine premises including a bar, the “catacombs,” and an inn that featured the town’s first flushing toilet. The brewery, like other such establishments, was shut down during Prohibition, but by that time the family had become so wealthy that Bube’s descendants were able to keep the building, which remained untouched until 1968, when they remodeled and reopened."  (

Bube's Brewery, Mount Joy, PA

Thus, as if preserved in amber, the brewery and sumptuous Victorian hotel waited until 2001 to be reopened to the public after many continuing restoration and preparations by current owner Sam Allen, who purchased it in 1982.
'Sam Allen is a 1980 graduate of Penn State with a degree in business and psychology and some experience in theatre. I asked Allen how a college graduate with no money began his career by buying an old brewery-turned-tourist attraction. He said he always has been interested in "antique architecture," old buildings, as well as caves and catacombs. In addition, he spent some time in Koln, West Germany, in an exchange program and toured the Kuppers Brewery where Kolsch beer is made.'

'Following graduation his father started showing him the sales end of real estate and insurance, the family business. As part of his training, Allen helped his father show Bube's Brewery to some clients. "It was love at first sight," he explained. "I was hoping they wouldn't buy it." Later, when he expressed his interest in buying his father would not hear of it, much less help finance such a venture. His father tried in vain to drum some sense into him, explaining the economic facts of life. Allen persisted however, and got a summer job as a tour guide at Bube's Brewery. The place was still up for sale when Allen made his offer to Gingrich (owner). Allen said he would manage the business in exchange for room, board, a small salary and an option to buy.'

My tour host Jeanbean, Bube's Brewery
'He began by giving tours and gradually made some changes. The bar in the Central Hotel was small, so Allen opened the area known as "The Bottle Shop" and constructed a bar, installed tables and sold food so that visitors could top off their tour with refreshments. He worked on the catacombs and eventually opened a restaurant there. Due to the 'cave temperatures' he installed kerosene heaters for winter diners. He reworked the museum and eventually opened a "biergarten" out back. He is in the process of expanding the patio. Bube's giant steam boiler is now surrounded by tables.'   (pabreweryhistorians
While I was there there was a small film crew also wandering through, working on a project that wasn't quite clear. There is a live music stage in the Bottle Works bar, and the hotel hosts murder mystery events, in addition to ghost tours, various period-themed feasts, karaoke, and "a local rendition of Mystery Science Theatre 3000." I know little else of the small borough of Mount Joy, 2.4 square miles and a population around 8,000 people there in southeast Pennsylvania. But for anyone who loves beer, old bars, and/or simply American history, this is a must-visit location.


102 N Market St, Mount Joy, PA 17552 - (717) 653-2056
Est. 1876 (Bube's), 1859 brewery, 2001 post-prohibition opening - Building constructed: 1859
Web site: - facebook 
Articles ranked: onlyinyourstate - atlasobscurapabreweryhistorians - ydkwashingtonpost - national register of historic places - theburgnews - yelp - tripadvisor - hpstrustwikipedia - instagram - discoverlancaster 

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

#4380 - Elevator Brewery, Columbus, OH - 9/30/2021

Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus
Columbus, Ohio

The Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus in downtown Columbus, Ohio is simply one of the most beautiful bars I have ever been in, and requires a dip into the location's history before we get back to the present business. I have found that sources, even usually reliable sources, document several different dates for when the current structure was built and when the "Bott Brothers" moved into it, and the picture is further clouded by the fact that the brothers ran operations in several other locations in Columbus, and apparently moved their ornate entry area from one of those to the current building. So for the last word on key dates I will rely on the nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places.

According to this document, the site, now known as the "Larrimer building," was constructed in 1895 and began its life as a bar when William "Billy" Bott and his brother Joseph moved their thriving billiard parlor there, opening in April 1905. The source I found that was closest to the date of the founding, Taylor's "Centennial History of Columbus and Franklin County" (1909), confirms this opening date, as well as the grandeur and success of the business, stating, "In April, 1905, [the Bott Bros.] built the finest cafe in the United States and at the present time are conducting the largest and most prosperous business in the city."

The brothers brought with them the elaborate, curved glass front entry structures, and a magnificent back bar created for the 1893 World Columbian Exposition, AKA the Chicago World's Fair, taking the event's blue ribbon for craftsmanship. The spectacular bar is hand-carved Philippine mahogany, with onyx columns, and various inlaid designs in Mother of Pearl, copper, silver, and other woods. Another striking feature are the large and beautiful interior stained glass pieces. The bartender told us that these were added from a local church in the 1920s, and indeed they do not appear in a set of photos from 1910, but I was not able to confirm this origin. But in any case, they add considerable elegance to the ornate glass in the entry and elsewhere, and the finely designed tile floor.

Jack Sullivan describes the Bott Brothers' preceding activities thusly:

'Joseph came to Columbus in 1871 and found work in a variety of retail establishments.  Within a few years, he happened on his true love:  billiards.  Working in a local pool parlor, he became an expert pool and billiards player.

Billie, who had been nine when Joseph left, arrived in Columbus a few years later.  The brothers soon opened a billiard parlor in downtown Columbus immediately across from the State House, guaranteeing a lively traffic from lawmakers and gaining the reputation as the “third house” of the legislature, a place where “a meeting” was always going on.   Later the Botts would move to larger and more elaborate quarters, advertising 40 tables.   They were also branching out into other enterprises.  Their pool halls had always featured a bar;  in 1886 they opened a full-fledged saloon, a part of its interior shown here.  The long and ornate front bar had been purchased from a Chicago saloon erected at the 1893 World’s Fair.  The Botts featured an animated electric bulb sign outside that outlined a pool table where a pool cue descended and balls scattered.  Columbus had never seen its like; customers flocked to the place. 

The following year Joseph and Billie organized the Bott Brothers Manufacturing Company, an enterprise that sold pool and billiard tables and supplies, bar fixtures, refrigerators, playing cards, and even bathroom fixtures.  In short, the Botts handled everything needed to set up, in the minds of many, “dens of iniquity.”'  (pre-prowhiskeymen blog, 2014)

Elevator Brewery and Draught Haus
Columbus, OH
Sullivan continued that the business ended "in 1916 when Ohio voted to go “dry.” but it appears that Ohio state prohibition did not go into effect until 1919, about six months before federal prohibition took effect. In any event, the Bott Brothers do appear to have concluded the manufacturing, distilling, brewing, and saloon business with the advent of prohibition, whereupon the premises are said to have briefly hosted "Columbia Recreation," where the liquor was replaced by milkshakes, and billiards by checkers and chess. Legend has it that tunnels, now sealed, below the building led to the state house and other prominent nearby structures, to facilitate discretion while keeping the liquor flowing for city leaders.

In 1925 it became the Clock Restaurant, which maintained a highly regarded pool hall, played by the likes of Rudolf Wanderone -- better known as "Minnesota Fats." To this day the bar retains an 1891 8-foot Botts table, as well as an 1884 7' table. Despite some highly regrettable design touches that obliviated the beautiful (and since restored) front entry, the popular Clock Restaurant remained there for over half a century, finally closing in April 1979. "The Clock (Reborn)" (re-)opened in 1981 and ran until 1994, following by "Chasen's" in 1996 to 1998.

Shortly after, a father and son couple of beer lovers with no experience in brewing or restaurants, established a brewery in a grain elevator in nearby Marysville. The location inspired the name "Elevator Brewing," and the owner's business card title of "elevator operator." In 2000 they opened a smaller brewery and a restaurant in the Larrimer building. Ryan Stevens, the younger partner, passed away in 2003, but his father Dick maintained the business, largely as an homage to his son. In 2016 employees Will Triplett and Kevin Jaynes completed a buyout of Dick's remaining shares and took over the restaurant, and then in 2020 the 81-yo Stevens sold the remaining brewery to Jackie O's, a popular Athens brewery.

Today the splendor of the Botts Brothers grand business floor remains on full display and in immaculate condition. It continues to serve some fine Elevator Brewing beers (and root beer), along with spirits and upgraded versions of pub food such as beef tenderloin medallions, cajun chicken penna, and blackened mahi mahi on a hot Finnish Tulikivi firestone. It is a can't miss stop for anyone interested in bars and/or history.

And finally, after mentioning spirits, lest we neglect the other worldly events that some people inevitably observe in bars of such antiquity, the building does of course come with a share of ghost stories. The most well known of these is described by

"On a cold February night in 1909, an infamous womanizer named Col. Randolph Pritchard was at the Bott Brothers Saloon, as he often was. Pritchard was called into the street where he was stabbed by a woman, presumably one that he had abused. The Colonel stumbled back into the saloon, collapsed on the floor and bled to death. At the exact moment of Pritchard’s death, the large clock in front of the saloon stopped, marking 10:05. The only trace of his killer was her fresh footprints in the winter snow. The clock stood for many years, stopped at 10:05 for eternity…or at least until it was removed and replaced. The ghost of Colonel Pritchard is said to roam the restaurant, but has only been spotted on rare occasions. Pritchard’s killer, who was believed to have froze to death the night she killed him, is also said to make her presence known. Mysterious footprints have appeared in fresh snow where no one had yet walked. There have been several witnesses who have claimed to see the footprints appear right before their eyes."

This photo is said to be from 1890, although that
seems dubious to me, as it is the current location.

The Clock Restaurant appears to have been very
popular, although how theycould live with
themselves after doingthis to the beautiful entry
is a mystery indeed.

161 N High St, Columbus, OH 43215 - (614) 228-0500
Est. 2000 - Building constructed: 1897
Previous bars in this location:
Web site: - facebook 
Articles ranked: thethirstymuse - pre-prowhiskeymen - yelp - tripadvisor - ohioexploration - beeradvocate - dispatch - untappd - gallivant - experiencecolumbus - heritageohio

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

#3600 - Bux's Place, Challis, ID - 8/20/2018

Bux's Place, Challis, ID

When I first found a photo of the sign outside of Bux's Place I knew I had to go there. It obviously had some age and character, but I wouldn't know how much until I visited. The bar has been Bux's since 1949, owned by Willis and Sylvilla Buxton until they sold it to Tony and Madge Yacomella in 1981. The sign had just gone up the previous year, but the bar has been there far, far longer. Once you step inside you clearly see the rounded log structure of the place, though the clapboard and shiplap facade is also original, dating back to the Central Hotel, constructed in 1877. The back section was added in 1879 and the current window treatment in front is said to date back "only" to the 1930s. (IHS

It is, in fact, the only commercial log structure that has survived since the 1880s in this old mining town -- there for the boom times of the late 1870s, surviving the fire of 1894, and also the earthquake of 1983. Challis's current population of around 1,000 people is actually not all that different from the mining boom years, reaching 614 in 1880, dying out with the mining, but climbing back up over 800 in the 1930s as the economy shifted to agriculture and lumber. It's enough people to make it the largest city in Custer County, Idaho, and in one site's rankings placed 9th in the 10 Most Redneck Cities in Idaho -- with Bux's being all the article talks about. But if so, I'll take it. The beer was cold and the people friendly.

The Idaho historical society has described the surroundings thusly:

"The town of Challls lies at an elevation of 5,280 feet in Round Valley, a circular yalley formed by a bend of the Salmon River as it flows through the southern Salmon River Mountains. To the north the town abuts a bluff of volcanic tuff and columnar rhyolite. U.S. Highway 93, which connects Mackay and Salmon, runs near the eastern edge of town. To the west the valley narrows into Garden Creek Canyon, where cottonwoods are abundant. North, west, east, and south, the valley is surrounded by the rugged, pine-skirted Salmon River Mountains and Lost River Mountains. In this physically isolated and sparsely populated area, the town of Challis grew up as a trade center for mines farther north and west in the central Idaho mountains." (IHS)

Patrons Suzie and Crockett, owner Madge
Bux's Place, Challis, Idaho

The first Europeans, appear to have passed through the area in fur trading expeditions in 1822, with prospectors beginning to arrive in 1864. "The settlers who had come to Challis by 1880 were a predominantly Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern-born group, but a substantial number were immigrants from England, Ireland, and Western Europe. There were, in addition, eight Chinese households. As one would expect, men outnumbered women five to one, and there were few children. Slightly less than half of the population were miners; the remainder were occupied with services and trades necessary for the subsistence of Challis and the surrounding mining towns." (wikiwand)

The Yacomella family still own and run Bux's, Tony and Madge's son Bill the manager, and Madge still pouring drinks when I was there. The large space serves as an unofficial community center for Challis, hosting birthday parties, memorials, and weddings -- with limited gambling events that would be a lot more common, I was informed, "if not for the goddamn Mormons." The "Testicle Festival" celebrating "Rocky Mountain Oysters" is a highlight. Madge is said to be "the true matriarch of Challis" (SVM), and as people relate past hijinks of people riding horses and motorcycles into the bar "There is a general acknowledgement that such tomfoolery doesn’t occur when Madge is around."

The interior is highlighted by ancient murals of mountain scenes on the upper walls, old taxidermy big game heads and antlers, a wood stove, and the aforementioned friendly people. Another highlight is the beautifully ornate, antique Brunswick back bar. It is both living history and a charming place to visit, not to be missed in any central Idaho roadtrip.

321 Main St, Challis, ID 83226 - (208) 879-4464
Est. 1949 - Building constructed: 1877
Previous bars in this location: Central Hotel Saloon, Challis Hotel Saloon
Web site: facebook 
Articles: sunvalleymag - yelp - wikipedia - national historical places description