The Dandy Inn in Fairview Heights is an Irish pub 365 days a year.
“We’ve got lots of beads and T-shirts and stuff, but we sell them all the time,” said owner Mark Daniels as he pointed to the colorful array in shades of green hanging behind the antique bar. The building has been a “public house” or “pub” since 1933. The Dandy Inn Irish Pub & Restaurant sits on the corner of Lincoln Highway and Old Collinsville Road.
In Ireland, a pub is the central gathering place in a small town. Mark and his family, who are of Irish descent, have worked hard over the decades to appeal to the whole community, offering homemade and reasonably priced food, drinks and a comfortable place to enjoy it all. Just don’t expect any wild shenanigans to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
“It’s a fun day, but I don’t want the rowdies. We’re really not a bar. We’re more of a restaurant, more food-oriented,” Mark said. “It’s very casual. We make our own soups and tartar sauce, coleslaw and potato salad. We even make our own chicken and fish flour” for frying.
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We’re really not a bar. We’re more of a restaurant, more food-oriented. It’s very casual. We make our own soups and tartar sauce, coleslaw and potato salad.
Mark Daniels on Dandy Inn
Through Thursday, Irish Nachos (corned beef and french fries covered in cheese, $7.99) and a corned beef and cabbage dinner ($9.59) will be added to the menu. Shepherd’s pie ($10.95 with a side salad) and the Royal Reuben sandwich ($8.69 with a side) are regulars on the menu. You can get pizza and other dishes, too, this week, but other items on this limited menu won’t return until Friday.
There are daily specials, such as on Sundays, when you can get two pork chops with a roll and choice of mashed potatoes, corn or green beans for $8.99.
The Three “O” Burger is a standing hit, a 1/3-pound beef patty stacked high with pepper-jack cheese, grilled onions, three onion rings and homemade onion sauce for $8.59. The newest sandwich is the Steak Sizzler, a strip steak on a hoagie with green peppers, onions and mushrooms ($9.99). All sandwiches and burgers come with a side.
Dandy Inn used to be Becherer’s Tavern, where St. Ellen Mine workers would come to cash their paychecks.
Chicken wings, made with homemade batter, fly out the kitchen door. A pound sells for $7.49 and two pounds for $12.59. On Tuesdays, the price all day is two pounds for $11.99. Seven flavor varieties range from sweet and tangy Thai to buttery garlic to cornbread.
Mark, 56, thinks of his business as an alternative to the hustle and bustle of other big, less-personal eateries nearby.
“We’re not a chain, not fast food. We cater to families,” he said. “Our staff is good with kids.”
One of the most popular changes made to the business, started by his parents Dave and Phyllis in 1977, was to add a fenced-in playground, surrounded by picnic benches. Kids can run around under the watchful eye of parents, who still get to sit down, enjoy a meal and socialize.
Best thing I ever did. That was 19 years ago. You just capture Mom and Dad when you can entertain the kids.
Mark Daniels on installing fenced playground surrounded by picnic tables
“Best thing I ever did,” said Mark. “That was 19 years ago. You just capture Mom and Dad when you can entertain the kids.”
Added on to the back of the building is an enclosed dining area with a fireplace, ordering window and bar. It’s heated and cooled so it can be used year-round.
On Sundays and Thursdays, firefighters, police and military get a 15 percent discount. Mark draws lots of baby-boomers with a Wednesday night car cruise in the parking lot from May through September.
Mark gets family help from his nephew Joey, who tends bar, and a part-time assist from son Casey, who like his dad, started working there as a youngster.
Inside, take a peek at the wire-window door with a slot in it by the kitchen. Back when St. Ellen’s Mine was working, Mark said, the miners would come to what was then Becherer’s Tavern (it’s engraved on the brick out front) on payday. They’d line up at the window and get their checks cashed.
Dandy Inn Irish Pub & Restaurant
- What: Family-friendly restaurant with a bar, outdoor seating and a children’s playground. Dine-in or carryout.
- Where: 1030 Lincoln Highway, Fairview Heights
- Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday; to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
- Handicapped accessible: Yes
- Phone: 618-632-8881; www.dandyinn.com and Facebook