Metro-East Living

Owner hopes renovated saloon will turn Dupo into destination spot

Good Times Saloon in Dupo

Major expansion of metro-east bar includes huge covered pavilion for inside/outside dining and year-round entertainment
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Major expansion of metro-east bar includes huge covered pavilion for inside/outside dining and year-round entertainment

A giant, open-air complex that’s going up behind Good Times Saloon has been a hot topic in Dupo recently.

It has an uncovered patio with black wrought-iron fencing and red umbrella tables, a steel pavilion with removable wall panels and garage-like doors that can be lowered or raised, and a grassy area for horseshoes and washers.

There are misters for hot weather, heaters for cold weather, cedar bathrooms, a bar made of railroad ties, horseshoe courts and bag games.

“We’re putting in two industrial fans from the Big Ass Fans company,” said owner Mark Packer. “They’re huge.”

Workers hope to complete the 4,000-square-foot project by the end of the month. Assistant manager Dean Anderson already is lining up bands for weekend shows.

“We’re trying to make this a little more of a destination place,” Mark said.

The two-story building at 200 N. Main St. in Dupo dates back to the late 1800s and now is covered with tan metal siding. It has housed a bar as long as anyone can remember.

Some people liked it. Some people didn’t. But almost everyone has been here. It’s kind of an iconic bar because it’s been around for so long.

Mark Packer on bar’s history

The last owner operated under the name Good Tymes for nearly three decades. Mark changed it slightly when he took over a year ago. The logo reads The New Good Ol’ Good Times Saloon.

“We wanted to keep the name, but convey the sense that it’s not the same Good Tymes people may have experienced in the past,” said Mark, whose girlfriend, Wanda Richardson, serves as general manager.

“It’s a cool bar with a cool history,” he said. “A mixed history, I think. Some people liked it. Some people didn’t. But almost everyone has been here. It’s kind of an iconic bar because it’s been around for so long.”

Mark, 59, of St. Louis, also owns Duke’s STL and Trueman’s Place in Soulard.

The bar at Good Times still has its original wood floor, exposed beams, massive bar and paneling made from old doors from an old East St. Louis school.

The food’s good, and it’s reasonably priced. Since the new owners took over, the menu has changed dramatically, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s more diverse.

Nancy Spier-Lee on new menu

Mark installed a new kitchen, water-filtration system and more TVs for sports. The dining room has been redecorated with red walls, corrugated tin paneling and light, unfinished trim.

The menu includes appetizers, soups, salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, pizza and daily specials ranging from pork chops to gyros.

“Ninety percent of our items are homemade, including the salad dressings,” said Dean, 29, of Dupo. “The chicken tenders aren’t frozen. The cooks cut the breasts themselves and hand-batter them.”

Dean is hooked on the steak sandwich, which is ribeye charbroiled to order and served on garlic cheese bread.

Mark’s favorite item is the New Orleans shrimp po boy with lightly breaded jumbo shrimp on a toasted hoagie, Cajun spices, lettuce and tomato, drizzled with remoulade sauce.

“Our wings are very, very good,” he said. “The sauce is unique. It’s sweet and hot. After we deep-fry the wings, we put on our sauce and throw them on the char grill and sear it in.”

Also popular is the chili, made from Mark’s own recipe.

Kevin Lee and his wife, Nancy Spier-Lee, stop by Good Times for a late lunch or early dinner several times a week.

“The food’s good, and it’s reasonably priced,” said Nancy, 63, of Dupo. “Since the new owners took over, the menu has changed dramatically, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s more diverse.”

The Lees often order barbecue pulled pork, fried cod, grilled cheese, appetizers or house-made soups such as chicken and rice or beef and potato.

Another regular, Ray Ortega, 47, of Dupo, is partial to the club sandwich and St. Louis-style pizzas made to order.

“It’s more of a regular menu rather than just bar food,” he said. “They definitely brought it up a notch.”

Good Times features karaoke on Thursdays, a D.J. on Saturdays, trivia on Tuesdays and a wing special on Wednesdays (five free with two-drink minimum).

Despite the bar’s renovations, menu changes and new name, Mark is committed to honoring its history and significance as a local gathering place.

“We have 20-somethings whose parents, grandparents and maybe great-grandparents came to this bar to drink, and many still do,” he said. “This is a community bar.”

At a glance

  • What: Good Times Saloon
  • Where: 200 N. Main St. in Dupo
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily; food served until 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and midnight Fridays and Saturdays
  • Seating: 80 people inside; patio will double the size
  • Handicap-accessible: Yes
  • Carryouts: Yes
  • Information: Call 618-286-9693 or visit Good Tymes Facebook page

On the menu

  • Good Times’ Famous Wings — Meaty chicken wings deep-fried, tossed in house-made Carolina tangy sauce and finished on the flame broiler, served with choice of dipping sauces, five for $4.95 or 10 for $8.95
  • Breaded Portabella Mushrooms — Basket of thick-cut portabella mushroom slices, lightly breaded, deep-fried and served with creamy horseradish dipping sauce, $5.95
  • New Orleans Shrimp Po Boy — A half-dozen lightly breaded jumbo shrimp on a toasted hoagie with Cajun spices, lettuce and tomato, drizzled with remoulade sauce, $7.75 with fries or house-made chips
  • Railroad BBQ Burger — Burger on Texas toast doused in barbecue sauce with a scoop of soft pub Cheddar cheese and topped with crispy onion rings, $7.50 for half pound or $5.50 for quarter with fries or house-made chips
  • Meat Lover Pizza — St. Louis-style pizza made to order with pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, bacon and ham, $9 for small or $14 for large
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