Bob Kirksey predicts that neighborhood taverns with good food will make a comeback in his lifetime, and he’s doing his part to help.
He has been operating Jacobsmeyer’s Tavern in Granite City for about 10 years.
“It’s had the same name since 1933,” said Bob, 48, of Granite City. “It opened the day after Prohibition ended.”
Bob installed a new kitchen, where head cook Jake Ritchie whips up burgers, sandwiches, fish baskets, wraps, pizza, appetizers, soups and salads.
“Everything is fresh,” said Jake, 25, of Granite City. “Our mushrooms are hand-dipped and breaded, as well as the chicken strips. The burgers are hand-pattied.”
“We make sure everything is seasoned,” Bob added. “Our food is never bland.”
One of the most popular menu items at Jacobsmeyer’s is Garlic Parmesan Chicken Tips, which also come in buffalo, barbecue, lemon pepper, bourbon, spicy Asian, teriyaki and Cajun flavors.
The Buffalo Chicken Wrap is popular. Jake’s favorite is the Steak House Burger.
“It’s a thin-sliced sirloin with mozzarella cheese, and it gets served with onion straws on top of it,” he said. “If I had to eat something every day, that’s probably something I wouldn’t get tired of.”
On a recent weekday, Debi Woodson was having a beer with her son, Ryan, at Jacobsmeyer’s. She lives only a few blocks away.
“I usually get the hamburgers,” said Debi, 54. “They’ve got different kinds. They’ve got a Cajun one that’s spicy, and the bacon cheeseburger is really good.
“My son always gets the hot wings, and my husband likes the shrimp.”
Jacobsmeyer’s occupies a brown-sided, two-story building that’s not too far from the steel mill. Customers range from blue-collar workers to doctors and lawyers.
“These people are like family to us,” Bob said.
He tended bar at the tavern while attending Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Then he operated novelty stores in Nashville and Minneapolis before moving back to Granite City.
Bob has renovated the inside of Jacobsmeyer’s using reclaimed cedar and corrugated metal and decorated with neon beer signs. People can sit at regular or high-top tables.
“When I bought the tavern, it had a drop ceiling,” Bob said. “I think they probably put it up in the ’70s for energy purposes.
“I didn’t even know it had tin ceilings until I poked up there with a broom handle. I said, ‘We’ve got to take (the drop-ceiling tiles) down.’”
Live bands play on a stage in the main room or outside in a beer garden with picnic tables and wrought-iron tables with blue umbrellas.
In 2007, St. Louis Magazine named Jacobsmeyer’s one of the best 42 spots to “let loose, unwind or just order a pint in peace.”
Don Degonia stops in the tavern two or three times a week to eat lunch or drink a beer after work. His parents started bringing him when he was 4 or 5 years old.
On this day, Don was sitting at the bar, socializing with friends. A box contained his leftover Meat Eater Pizza.
“I get the salads a lot,” said Don, now 46, of Pontoon Beach. “Anything I’ve had here is good. I have no complaints at all.”
At a glance
What: Jacobsmeyer’s Tavern
Where: 2401 Edwards St. in Granite City
Kitchen hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Seating: 60 inside and 40 outside
Information: Call 618-876-5253
On the menu
Jake’s Meat Eater Pizza — Pepperoni, sausage, ham, beef and bacon, $13.95 for 12-inch or $15.95 for 16-inch
Steak House Burger — Hand-pattied burger with sauteed mushrooms and onion straws, $7.99 with one side.
Cajun Chicken Sandwich — Grilled chicken breast with Cajun spices and pepper Jack cheese on a toasted bun, $6.99
Blackened Salmon Plate — Blackened salmon with a huge baked potato and side salad, $8.99
Italiano Style Salad — Lettuce bed with salami, pepperoni, black and green olives and mozzarella cheese, $6.99