Carrie Courtney and Mike Burk go to Friday's South in Belleville when they're in the mood for a low-key evening in a comfortable setting with good food.
"It's laid back," said Courtney, 40, of Belleville. "It's not pretentious."
Mike, 46, likes the idea of customers being able to play their own music on the jukebox.
"And if you come in here by yourself, everybody's friendly," he said.
On a recent afternoon, the couple were sitting at the bar, munching on an order of chicken wings.
Blue Moon, Courtney's favorite beer, was on special.
"This place has the best pizza in the area," Mike said. "It's got a great thin crust, good sauce and some kind of cheese blend. It's literally addictive."
Any pizza costs $9.95 on Wednesdays and Sundays.
"You can get a large pizza for $9.95, so that's a great deal," said bartender Tia Sommers, 37, of Belleville.
Customer Rich Eckert, 42, of Belleville, is hooked on the pizza, but he also likes the burgers, especially the patty melt.
"It's just a good place," he said. "The beer is cold, and it's a family atmosphere. It's like 'Cheers.' Everybody knows everybody."
Friday's South occupies a 19th-century brick building at 624 S. Illinois St.
"As far as I know, it's always been a bar," said co-owner Rob Juelfs, 39, of Columbia. "I'm not sure what happened during Prohibition."
Inside, the main room is filled with wood. Knotty pine walls are lined with photos and mirrored beer signs. A bike with a banana seat hangs from the ceiling.
Customers can sit at high-top or regular tables. A back room with stained-glass windows serves as overflow space.
"Since they've got the video gambling, no one under 21 is allowed back there," Tia said. "It's for adults only."
Rob bought the business in 2003 with two friends, Eric Kent, of Collinsville, and Jason Kent, of Caseyville, who are brothers.
"We all had full-time jobs, but we were looking for an investment," Rob said.
They expanded with a Friday's South in Collinsville in 2006 and The Red Bar in Collinsville in 2009.
"The two Fridays are the same," Rob said. "The Red Bar is completely different."
The Friday's South menu includes appetizers, salads, burgers and other sandwiches, in addition to pizza. It started serving lunch about a month ago.
"Most people get whatever the special is," Tia said. "You come in on a Monday, you're going to get 35-cent wings. Tuesday is $1 tacos. And they're really pretty good portions."
Rob and his partners credit employees and customers for their success at Friday's South.
"It's not about us," he said. "We have full-time jobs. We put a lot of trust in our staff, and we also value our loyal customers."
At a glance
What: Friday's South
Where: 624 S. Illinois St. in Belleville
Kitchen hours: 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to midnight Fridays through Sundays (bar open later)
Seating: 65 people
Information: 618-233-1724 or visit the Facebook page
On the menu
Combo Pizza -- Pepperoni, hamburger, Italian sausage, mushroom and onion, $14.95 for 16-inch large ($9.95 on Wednesdays and Sundays)
Buffalo Chicken Club -- Buffalo chicken strips with bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato on a toasted hoagie bun, $6.95 with chips
Appetizer Sampler -- Six mini tacos, six toasted ravioli, four jalapeno Cheddar poppers and four mozzarella cheese sticks, $8.95
Patty Melt -- Burger with melted American and Swiss cheeses and grilled onions on toasted rye with thousand island dressing, $5.95 with chips
Cod Cut-up Sandwich -- Fridays only with two sides, including mac and cheese, french fries, cole slaw or beer-battered onion rings, $5.95