Monday, March 27, 2023

Dandy Inn Irish Pub & Restaurant, O'Fallon, Illinois. (1850-2017)

Dandy Inn, built initially as Becherer's Tavern in 1850, has been a general store, a tavern, a dance hall, and always as it still is today, a popular gathering place. It has been said that Abraham Lincoln was one of the early visitors.

Beginning as a one-room log cabin located on U.S. 50 (the Vincennes Trail), the tavern offered travelers food, water, and supplies. The well, located in the front, fed a horse trough and provided a water supply for the business. Initially, the building was primarily a one-story structure. The business grew, and additions encompassed the original one-room tavern.

Near the turn of the century, Henry Becherer's son, Adam, took over the tavern. During that time, a building was constructed on the highway's edge and used as a dance hall.

The early 1900s boasted an expanding clientele when coal mining became a big business in the area. The miners enjoyed congregating at the tavern when work was finished. The prospering mines created a rail industry to carry the ore to distribution points. The railroad workers, needing a place to quench their thirst and get a sandwich, frequented Becherer's tavern.

Workers, deciding that the area would be an excellent place to build a house and raise a family, created a community with life interwoven at Becherer's Tavern. Visitors kept increasing. The railway had a streetcar that carried people from Lebanon, Illinois, to East St. Louis, and the Crossroads Station was on Old Collinsville Road. More and more people were traveling by automobiles, and Becherer's had one of the first gas pumps in the area.

Dances were held in the pasture – admission 10¢. Some guys would jump over the fence to avoid paying the cover charge. This was bootleg time – so root beer was the main fare. But remember, anything was available at Becherer's. If you wanted bootleg whiskey, you simply told Adam. The place had a somewhat protected status. Near the end of prohibition in 1932, when Roosevelt indicated a repeal of prohibition if elected, Adam began building a new building to accommodate the future beer drinkers. The farmers liked coming to Becherer's.

The present two-story tavern structure was built in 1933 and opened on New Year's Day, 1934, and beer was legal. It was a magnificent building with few like it outside the cities. It provided the owner's family a store, tavern, and living quarters, and the business prospered. 

Adam Jr., Orville and Kate Roach, and Adam's children began running the place when their father entered the service in 1941.

By 1960, the clientele had changed again. It wasn't a community center anymore, and the dances long since had ceased. The towns had grown, and people were more interested in O'Fallon or Fairview Heights social gatherings. By then, Becherer's was a neighborhood tavern and store.

It was an excellent spot for the residents of the surrounding subdivisions to stop on their way home from work or to visit for a late-evening beer. Those were the folks most affected when they decided to close. Until they decided to retire on New Year's Eve 1976, the place had changed little. The beer was cold, and the sandwiches were made fresh at the grocery counter in the next room. The customers, a blend of newcomers and crusty old-timers, made a visit an exciting experience. The neighbors waited four months before the Daniels bought the corner and opened their place.

On April Fool's Day, 1977, Dave and Phyllis Daniels officially opened the Dandy Inn. Two of their children, Mark and Ann, were put to work and are still connected to the place today. Phyllis is now retired but loves to come in for lunch with friends. Mark is in from early morning to late night most days of the week, usually fixing something or chatting with customers. Ann has since retired from the restaurant business. She stays busy raising her kids and running The Scrapbook Factory down the street. 

Every year on St. Patrick's Day, Ann is pulled from retirement to help at the Dandy Inn during one of the busiest times of the year. Dandy Inn Irish Pub boiled their own beef briskets, making the best corned beef in Southern Illinois.

Continuing the family business, Mark's son, Casey, works in the kitchen after school. Most people think he also has the restaurant business in his blood, but who knows what the future will bring. After over three decades in business, the Dandy Inn has seen many changes but still has something for everyone; a great gathering place for families, a well-worn bar for an after-work beer, and always delicious, home-style family recipes.

My personal favorite restaurant in St. Clair County for fresh hand-breaded cod or 
perch (both on the menu) and a mound of freshly cut fries. The outdoor covered seating was comfortable too.

Dandy Inn permanently closed its doors on Sunday, January 15, 2017.

Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Digital Research Library of Illinois History Journal™ is RATED PG-13. Please comment accordingly. Advertisements, spammers and scammers will be removed.