Tonight, Jim P, VI, and I were hosted by Home Liquors, a hole-in-the-wall joint on Roosevelt Road, just east of Harlem that Jim had spotted on a bike excursion. Its easy to miss: I located VI, with my cell, as he walked in front of the place, on his cell, oblivious as I would be to a place that would be off anyones radar unless they were specifically looking for it.
This tiny tavern is probably smaller than the offices of many of the people reading this post. Its got two television sets tuned to the same ball game. Flasks of hard liquor line the walls, and you can buy some to go, if you want, but you cant drink it there (its the law).
No draft beer. Just bottles and smoky guys sitting around swilling in the late and hot evening. Fellow I bummed a fag from told me, This is an old mans bar. Meaning, its not open much at night; just in the afternoons and early evening, seven days a week.
Home Liquors has the first liquor license to be issued in Berwyn after Prohibition we were actually there (on our third bottle, as I recall) when this years freshly minted license was brought in by the burly owner. I dont think the interior has been redone since then the 30s. Theres a walk-in liquor cabinet, with old stainless steel hinged refrigerator doors (and what we were told is a world-class beer can collection up top). Its got an time-worn chalkboard beer menu, lots of old wood, kicked up counters and fine funk. It would be a perfect place to have a private party or a poker game.
The bartender, JB, told us that his little business has taken a big hit from the Jewel across the street, which now sells alcohol. My guess is that the days are numbered for this little place, which has been in the same location longer than most of us have been alive.
Food? Well, there were some bags of chips and pretzels and corn, but JB and the owner did help us decide on a good local place to eat (it involved drawing cards from a Nazi helmet).
The beer was cold, the folks were friendly, and the whole place felt comfortable.
Would I go back?
If you need an excuse to stop by, its right down the street from Fitzgeralds American Music Festival, which runs for a few more days.
Home Liquor Store
7005 Roosevelt Rd
Berwyn, Illinois 60402.