Feb 19, 2015

Sizing up Logan’s Package, Buffalo, Ill.

Logan’s Package probably doesn't do a strong package liquor business these days, but it does deliver a great small town bar experience, and it’s the closest thing to a village institution in the small central Illinois community of Buffalo, Ill., which is about 15 minutes east of Springfield. 

It’s also where the girlfriend and I spent the majority of our first date.  It was just blocks away from where she was living at the time and seemed like a good starting point.  Fast forward a few hours after a few cocktails and some great conversation, and we simply didn't want to leave to go anywhere else. 

Logan's Package -- a story about a man (Kevin Logan) and his bar.

A lot of that feeling was about the moment.  But some of that, frankly, can be attributed to how the proprietor, Kevin Logan makes you feel at home.  And honestly, when you get to know Kevin, you become part of the Logan’s bar family.  That’s why Logan’s Package remains on our short list of favorite hangouts long after the girlfriend moved into Springfield.

According to Kevin, Logan’s has been a part of family -- and by extension a part of Buffalo -- for decades.  His dad reportedly ran a “pool hall and gambling joint” across the street from the business’s current location up until 1948 until a change in the local political climate forced him to “clean things up a little.”  By then, however, the bar was a fixture in town and remained as much until 1975 when it burned down. 

That’s when Kevin’s father moved Logan’s into its current location among a small strip of historic buildings that still comprise downtown Buffalo.  The building has been part of the downtown landscape since 1905 and has previous lives as a grocery store, town hall and furniture store.  In 1964, Kevin’s dad purchased the building and ran an auction house there before moving Logan’s Package into its current location.  By 1979, Kevin’s father had passed away and Kevin was helping his mom run the business.  Today, of course, Kevin runs the show and has kept Logan’s a daily part of the lives of the many locals who frequent there. 

Another thing Logan’s has preserved over the years is the sense of history you get when you walk into the place.  The old wooden façade makes you feel like you’re about to enter a time warp.

And the storefront window proudly advertises that modern convenience known as air conditioning.  Obviously, this wasn't a huge selling point when we visited Logan’s a few weeks ago.   

Nor is it a necessity most of the year when you have large antique fans like these in every corner.  Kevin has a kick-ass contemporary jukebox, though, and he isn't afraid to load it up with great music for his regulars.  He loves music – and his tastes run the spectrum – and he’s also been known to join in on karaoke Saturday nights.

Yep, that's about where I first found her :-)
Logan’s also features your classic long bar which runs much of the length of the building.  As you can see, the girlfriend approves.  So do most of the regular customers who congregate here religiously. 

Behind the bar, an impressive variety of whiskey, rum and other spirits are displayed behind the cash register in an order only Kevin understands.  To the left of the register, a large refrigerator holds the vodka, beer, tequila and other liquers which are best chilled.  This is no ordinary small town bar stock.  Clearly, Kevin knows his libations and loves to share his knowledge.          

The view from the rear of the bar really lets you appreciate the age of the place and its classic bar features.  The wooden floor creaks with every step you take on it.  The pool tables, throwbacks to Logan’s pool hall past, still get nightly use.  The fans hanging from the high ceiling still moderate the air flow.  And the storefront still features an elevated display case from the building’s days as a furniture store.   

The wall décor ranges from your classic metal bar signs to the curious conversation starters …

… the armadillo bottle holder is one of my favorites. 

And although Kevin is a passionate St. Louis Cardinals fan, he has the proper business sense to split his sports décor evenly so Chicago Cubs fans feel welcome as well. 

Finally, as with most buildings more than a century old, the bathroom facilities are … well, not ideal.  But they fit in with the bar’s character.  Dedicating the facilities to Cubs fans is about as harsh of a ribbing they’ll get here, too. 

The best part about Logan's, of course, is Kevin's hospitality and graciousness, as well as the friendly clientele who frequent the place.  If you're ever in the area and need to quench a thirst, I highly recommend you drop by.  You won't be a stranger for long.  

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great blog, John. Enjoyed it. Makes me want to stop in for a cold one sometime.

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