Louise and Pat McDill have spent the past 13 years quietly reviving a Glen Carbon institution: Old Towne Tavern.
It was known as Yanda’s Saloon when it opened around 1890. Owner Frank Yanda tended bar and hobnobbed with customers, mostly coal miners. He probably did a little politicking, too, as he later became village mayor.
The frame storefront on Main Street also housed a grocery store and barbershop, but it made the bulk of its history as a bar. By 2004, it was showing some serious wear and tear.
“We stopped in to look at it, and it was kind of horrible, really,” said Pat, 51, of Troy. “There were like two people here on a Friday night. It was dirty ...”
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“... and kind of sad,” said Louise, 35, picking up where her husband left off. “But you could tell that it had potential for growth. You don’t find historic buildings like this very often, and when you do, they’re either falling apart, or someone is holding on to them.”
Louise had been serving at Fast Eddie’s Bon Air and Mac’s Time Out in Alton. Pat did computer support for a stock brokerage firm and moonlighted as a bartender.
The couple wanted a place of their own, so they took the plunge and bought Old Towne.
Since that time, they have built a new bar, replaced the floor, removed the drop ceiling, refinished the original, 14-foot-high tin ceiling, added a patio, landscaped around it, updated plumbing and electrical and installed six TV screens and a jukebox.
Whatever you do, keep the bathrooms clean. A lady doesn’t want to go into a dirty bathroom.
Pat McDill on his instructions to employees
Most important to Pat, they renovated the bathrooms.
“I always tell the employees, whatever you do, keep the bathrooms clean,” he said. “A lady doesn’t wanted to go into a dirty bathroom.”
The McDills also sell food, but the menu is about as simple as it gets: pizza, Bosco Sticks and toasted ravioli. That’s it.
Twelve-inch pizzas are handmade with a choice of the usual toppings on thin crust and cooked in a pizza oven. Prices range from $6.99 for one topping to $8.99 for the works.
“The pizza’s great,” said Robert “Pittsburgh Bob” Whisnant, 58, of Glen Carbon, a Boeing retiree who was sitting at the bar on a recent weeknight. “I like everything on it, so I get the supreme.”
The price and the value and the taste — it’s a no-brainer.
Andy Hanselman on Old Towne’s pizza
Customers Pat and Mike Fulcher usually order half and half. She’s partial to sausage and mushroom. He likes sausage and pepperoni.
Andy Hanselman, 39, who lives across the street, picks up pizzas several times a month.
“The price and the value and the taste — it’s a no-brainer,” he said. “The crust is kind of like Imo’s. It’s thin. But the cheese is a mozzarella blend, and the toppings are fresh and delicious.”
Old Towne seats 16 people at high-top tables and another 13 at the bar. Or people can enjoy a game of pool.
Pat and Louise also own McDill’s Irish Pub in Collinsville, which they bought 12 years ago. It’s a busy life, as they have a blended family with five children, ages 2 to 20.
They would like to eventually rebuild Old Towne’s storefront windows, now partially covered. That would give customers a view of Main Street and the historic Yanda log cabin.
In the meantime, the couple just keep plugging away at the bar and pizza business, trying to make customers feel comfortable.
“It’s a very friendly atmosphere,” said Mike Fulcher, 63, of Glen Carbon, a retired steelworker. “You know everybody when you walk in. But even if you’re a stranger, they make you feel welcome.”
At a glance
- What: Old Towne Tavern
- Where: 155 S. Main St. in Glen Carbon
- Hours: 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays; 2 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays
- Seating: 16 at high-top tables and another 13 at bar
- Carryouts: Yes
- Information: Call 618-288-0082 or check out its Facebook page