Shorty's in Albers makes everyone feel welcome

News-DemocratMay 5, 2013 

Shorty's Tavern in Albers was one of the first drinking establishments in the area to provide "tables for ladies" in the 1930s.

They still weren't allowed to sit at the bar.

"The phone number was 15-S," said owner Glen "Shorty" Behrman, 58. "That meant short crank on the old phones."

Glen got these tidbits from a business card found in the wall in the early 1990s, when he was renovating the kitchen.

The card had been printed by his grandparents, Anton "Tony" and Catherine Behrman, the first of three generations to own the business.

It was then called "Behrman's Tavern" (still its legal name). The slogan was, "Where good fellows get together."

Glen also has heard stories from his parents, Urban and Dorothy Behrman, who took over in 1954.

"There was a spittoon along the bar on the floor, and my mom had to clean it out every morning," Glen said. "She used to hate that job."

Urban was called "Shorty" in the Navy because of his stature. Glen got the same nickname after wearing one of his father's bowling shirts to Mater Dei High School on Hobo Day.

Today, Shorty's brick building on the corner of Main and Commercial is a local landmark -- the point where everyone seems to start when giving directions in Albers.

"We try to make everybody feel welcome," said Glen's wife, Theresa, 59. "When somebody new comes in, I always make it a point to ask them where they're from. No one is a stranger."

Theresa is a stickler for cleanliness, and Glen is a neatnik, which shows in the bar. Glen's brother, Clyde Behrman, also helps with the business.

Shorty's is a popular place for lunch, dinner and late-night snacks. The kitchen is open until closing at 2 a.m.

"It's good food, and it's a bargain," said regular Faron Daniel, 41, of New Baden, who had a cheeseburger ($2.25), chips and a Ski soda on a recent afternoon.

"You can't pass it up. There's not a bad item on the menu. Even when they had liver and onions, it was good."

The tavern is known for its homemade 12-inch pizzas with thick or thin crust, baked in an old stone grill. They cost $11 with no limit on toppings.

"The pizzas are great," said bartender Alicia "Ali" Forrest, 24, of Albers. "We get so many orders, we call it 'Shorty Hut.'"

Theresa also whips up daily plate-lunch specials, ranging from pork chops to beef and noodles, mostaccioli to sloppy Joes.

"She is an amazing cook," Ali said. "The roast beef is my favorite, but a lot of people like her fried chicken, meatloaf and spaghetti and meatballs."

The Behrmans' history with Shorty's goes back to 1934, when Anton and Catherine bought the tavern.

"Grandpa was a farmer in St. Libory, and he had a heatstroke," Glen said. "So he had to get an 'inside job.' That's what the doctor told him."

The bar came with the house next door, where Glen and Theresa live today.

As boys, Glen and Clyde cleaned, sorted bottles and cut the grass.

"We were bartending when we were 10 or 12 years old," Glen said. "When someone came in that we didn't know, we would have to use that crank phone and call Dad, and he would come over and serve them."

Glen and Theresa took over the business in 1987. Their 18-year-old son, Brady, helps with chores. They also have an older daughter, Jackie Campos Berti.

Brady is a pool champion who grew up playing at Shorty's.

"He is so advanced compared to where I was at 18," said Clyde, 56, better known by the nickname "Balls," a top pool player in Clinton County.

One of the tavern's paneled walls is lined with trophies won by its team in the Clinton County Bank Pool League. Glen has never missed a Sunday match in his 37 years as president.

Shorty's also has a beer garden with a pavilion, picnic tables, high-top tables, wrought-iron furniture, plants, fire pits, a washer court and large shade tree.

"It stays cool back here in the summer," Glen said.

The tavern has a Wednesday night washer league. It also sponsors men's and women's softball teams.

"We get all kinds of people -- families, kids. Most are regulars," said Ali, who lives next door in another housed owned by Glen and Theresa. "Very seldom do you get drama.

"I've worked here for two years, and we've never had a fight. There's not a lot of risque bar behavior. It's just not the kind of place."

At a glance

What: Shorty's Tavern

Where: 202 S. Commercial St. in Albers

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily

Food: All the time

Table service: Lunch only

Seating: 50

Handicap-accessible: No

Information: 618-248-5507

On the menu

Plate-lunch specials -- Ranging from fried chicken to pork chops, beef and noodles to spaghetti and meatballs with fish on Fridays ($5.75)

Pizza -- 12-inch original or thin crust, any number of toppings (one for $11, two for $21 and three for $30).

Cheeseburger -- Hand-pattied and grilled ($2.25 for a single or $3.75 for a double)

Appetizers -- Onion rings, chicken fritters, butterfly shrimp, breaded mushrooms, cheese fries, mozzarella sticks, mini tacos, toasted ravioli, spicy wings, etc. ($2 to $4.75)

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