Ronnie Lottz, the happy proprietor of one of our favorite barbecue places – Cigars & Stripes BBQ Lounge in Berwyn, IL – likes to have fun most of the year. At Halloween, however, he pulls out all the stops. Once again this year, Ronnie is hosting Halloween Week. If you plan to trick or treat on Route 66 in Chicagoland, make sure you stop by his beer, ’cue and cigar emporium at some point next week. With a week-long spooktacular that will last through dinnertime on All Saints Day (for those late risers with truly monstrous hangovers from the night before), there’ll be plenty of opportunity to check out the events if you visit or live in the area. Address and phone are listed at the bottom of this post.
The boo-dacious bash starts at noon on Sunday, October 26, 2014 and runs through 6pm Sunday, October 26, 2014. On Sunday the 26th, Ronnie kicks off the week with the Chicago Bears football game on the big screen and Bloody Mary specials all day long, followed by whatever specials he has on the smoker and the latest episode of The Walking Dead at 8pm. Nothing like spooky group appointment TV to get the blood going!
Yes, we know that Hallowmas is over (as of last Sunday morning), but it is the beginning of The Dead Season. No, that’s not the name of a new TV series on AMC or F/X, despite the numbers of dead and semi-dead running around on the boob tube on those cable networks. The fact is, almost-winter, winter and almost-spring are also the dead season up north for most car cruising and road trips. Which, to Route 66 roadies, means that either you go further south and west on the route or else you become a (temporary) armchair traveler. We don’t mind: we accommodate armchair travelers, too [grin!].
In that spirit, during the Dead Season we bring you stories of other spirit(s) on Route 66, this time over at Cigars and Stripes BBQ Lounge in Berwyn, IL. If you recall, we’ve already clued you in about owner Ronnie Lottz’s tasty smoked hot wings and his tent-and-music extravaganza during the annual Berwyn Route 66 Car Show every September. We’ve even mentioned SweetPea, the resident mummy with its own namesake barbecue sauce; said mummy was out to a day-spa for the fake undead last time we visited Ronnie’s place (we trust that SweetPea’s tattered wraps are all rejuvenated and back in place now).
SweetPea, it seems, has spooky company in the way of a resident ghost or three – or at least there are three possibilities for such spiritual visitations. Ghost stories about the tavern include tales of glasses falling off shelves, bottles falling over or down to the ground, martini shakers flipping in the air by themselves, keys disappearing then reappearing in front of customers, a phone lifting off the hook by itself, a shadowy figure crossing the lounge area or appearing in a doorway, and unexplained noises. And now we have people willing to talk about their experiences in the lounge on YouTube.
You can tell spring is really here in Chicago: the lilacs are blooming, the days are warmer, overnight temps no longer approach freezing, and Route 66 got some attention on local television this weekend. Oh, and the local landscapers are now waking people up at the crack of dawn with their edge trimmers, lawn mowers and leaf blowers, earning a colorful cussing from many a sleeper … but I digress.
Drive time has arrived!
The Associated Press led off the weekend early Friday morning with a news item from Santa Fe, NM: law officers across all eight states of the Mother Road participated in a 24-hour-long campaign to get drivers on the historic road to buckle up. Local press covered it, too, mostly by citing AP. Given that seat belts and child restraints save about 13,000 lives yearly and you’re 75 percent less likely to die in a rollover crash if you’re wearing a seat belt, according to federal statistics,* it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. But it did mean a crackdown all the way up and down the route this weekend.
* National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s figures
Surprise, surprise: a local little gem, the Berwyn Route 66 Museum, now has a listing on Yelp.com. The user-friendly San Francisco-based consumer rating site for all things food, entertainment and service minded allows users and business owners to post free listings. Users can then review local eateries, groceries, shops and stores, bars, music venues, theaters, museums, galleries, dry cleaners, car mechanics, other service businesses, schools, churches, even doctors’ and dentists’ offices. Whee!
Berwyn Route 66 Museum, 7003 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn IL (photo copyright 2013 M.R. Traska)