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BLOOMINGTON — Maguire’s Bar & Grill, 220 N. Center St. in downtown Bloomington, is this week’s pick for Eats of the Week.
Owner Mike Hill maintains a tavern atmosphere and an extensive menu at the bar, a location that once housed JC Penney’s, as well as a beauty school. It opened as Maguire on August 29, 1997.
“In 25 years I haven’t regretted coming to work every day,” said Hill, who moved to Bloomington in 1984. “I see a lot of new people and I naturally have an outgoing personality and j love interacting with people.”
Consistency is a key ingredient. For example, the hachis parmentier has followed the same recipe from the beginning, and it is offered on special every Thursday. Other popular menu items include wings, burgers, and specialties such as open roast beef with mashed potatoes and fried chicken with corn and gravy.
For atmosphere, Maguire’s offers darts, TVs, video games, a jukebox, beer garden, and trivia throughout the week. Hill added that they used to have pub crawls and more live music before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The full-service bar also offers weekly drink specials, including $2.50 national bottles on Tuesdays; $3.25 22-ounce national drafts on Thursdays; $4.50 coronas on Fridays; $14 domestic buckets on Saturdays; and everything is $1 off on Sundays. They also offer a few craft beers.
St. Patrick’s Day is the bar’s busiest day of the year. Patrons can sample green beer, corned beef, and coleslaw, as well as an Irish band.
“I’ve been a people person my whole life and had a labor-intensive job and I knew I didn’t want to do this forever,” said Hill, who worked as a driver. truck driver for Budweiser for 18 years. “There are a lot of good people in Bloomington-Normal and the surrounding small towns; people are pretty supportive of us.”
“Maguire’s is unique because it’s run like a tavern, a bar, rather than a business, which are becoming increasingly rare. I didn’t want a nightclub or a bistro; they’re hard to keep,” Hill said. “People don’t come to downtown Bloomington just to get swept away. I’m not a franchise or a chain; I’ll choose a tavern over a place like Buffalo Wild Wings every time.”
Maguire’s Bar & Grill is open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. It offers indoor and outdoor dining and takeout.
Photos: Janis Utsler’s sunken patio in Bloomington
Contact Olivia Jacobs at 309-820-3240. Follow Olivia on Twitter: @olivia___jacobs