Mar 14, 2023

Saloon or museum? Why not visit both at Oogie and JJ’s in Glenarm, Ill.?

Central Illinois Small Town Bar Tour – 2023 Edition

After two highly successful stops in Breckenridge and Bulpitt, and stops in Pawnee and Auburn that are a bit more blurry in the memory banks, our daylong small-town bar tour of Central Illinois concluded just south of Springfield.  In Glenarm, technically. 

There, on the frontage road formerly known as U.S. Route 66, was the Lucky Moon Saloon.  Or so we thought. 

Well, as pictured at the top, the entrance still resembles a modern-day saloon on the outside, or at least a large shed decorated to look like a saloon. 

But as fate would have it, the old Lucky Moon is no more.  Welcome to the bar now known as Oogie and JJ’s Bar, reopened under new ownership as of August 2022.  

The first thing about Oogie and JJ’s bar that surprised me was how spacious it was on the inside.  And given the metal walls and ceiling, the repurposed massive shed analogy can’t be far from the truth.  The western decor remains from its previous incarnation, right down to the barrels repurposed as tables.  Somehow, it works. 

Using that space to its advantage, Oogie and JJ’s provides plenty of gaming options to keep its customers entertained.  You see the pool table in the foreground. You may also be able to see a separate gaming room in the background for slots.  Darts players can find their happy space here, too. 

From a distance, the bar seems much smaller than it actually is.  We found our corner section to be quite comfortable, with plenty of room to spare.  

The consensus drink, at least for the first round, was Stag in a can.  And at $1.50 each, you almost couldn’t afford to not drink Stag.

It was admittedly a slow afternoon, but the bartender seemed genuinely happy to see some fresh faces.  Danielle, who knows a thing or two about the bar business, was the first to get the scoop about the new ownership.  As fate would have it, Bonnie the bartender is also part owner along with her two sons whose nicknames growing up are the inspiration for the bar’s name.  It’s a true family affair, and they’re passionate about keeping and growing a friendly neighborhood bar atmosphere where anyone can feel welcome to stop by and unwind. 

I’d probably know more of the owners’ story, but sometimes I get easily distracted when I drink, which is exactly what happened when Danielle showed me the flushing toilet game on the bar.  I’m still uncertain of the purpose, but I have to wonder if it’s somehow connected to the “Splash Specials” shown on the specials board at the end of the bar. 

Apparently, the objective is to spin the roll on the side and flush the toilet however many times are shown once the roll stops spinning.  And, if you’re lucky, you don’t get splashed in the face with water from the bowl.  I wasn’t lucky.  Oh, well.  I certainly don’t mind a little self-deprecating toilet humor.    

After drying myself off, I joined Danielle in the beer garden where Greg and Punky were waiting.  More of the old saloon motif remains, as well as a nice covered portion, so smokers can use the beer garden rain or shine.  

During our conversation outside, Greg asked if I had seen the National Corvair Museum next to the bar.  Umm … what?  Of course not, I was distracted by the toilet game.  We returned inside, and he showed me the way.  I’m not sure how I missed the sign and the doors behind the stuffed bear, but I guess it was a long day. 

The doors open into what is essentially a huge showroom for classic Chevy Corvairs of all varieties imaginable, along with displays of other Corvair-related memorabilia.  And yes, it is a true, nationally recognized museum, run entirely separate from the bar, and admission is free. 

I am admittedly not a huge car buff, but I was impressed by the diversity of the vehicles on display.  Some of these, if not one of a kind, are surely quite rare.  From this pickup truck that reminded me of the movie “Cars” …   

… to the station wagon that surely made family road trips extremely awesome …

… to the custom-built limousine (surely the VCR is not original to the model) …

… and even utility vehicles like this tow truck.

I’ve been to my fair share of bars in my travels, but I can honestly say this is the first one I can recall having a museum entrance attached to it.  It was a fun, fitting end to a day full of pleasant surprises. 

I should note that unlike the bars featured in the previous two posts, this was not the first time I had been to this bar.  I liked it as the Lucky Moon the few times I visited in the past.  I love it as Oogie and JJ’s now.  Oogie and JJ’s Bar is very close to Springfield, and well worth the short trip.  I have little doubt you’ll feel comfortable here. 

Who knows?  With enough support, maybe they’ll have their own sign before too long.


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