Many Kenoshans who came of age during the sixties and seventies well remember the old Kenosha teen bars. The teen bars were taverns that allowed eighteen-year-olds to drink beer, at a time when the legal drinking age was twenty-one.
Hearing tales about the teen bars from early on, we couldn’t wait to turn eighteen and tear out there ourselves. Most of the teen bars were located out in the county, I guess they didn’t want us hooligans terrorizing the inner city with our antics.
As memory serves me, there were about six active teen bars during their heyday. Some were around for many years, while others lasted just a few. Although most of us hit all of them at one time or another, each one catered to a different crowd and we all had our favorites.
The Brat Stop was one of the most popular teen bars. A larger facility which served food as well as beverages, it boasted an excellent location on highway 50 right off of I-94. Back then, everyone called it Rasmussen’s. (After the owners) Young people from Illinois and Milwaukee also flocked to Rasmussen’s, it was a pretty generic crowd. The Brat Stop is still in business today, offering food, beverages and cheese packages. After two significant fires, it has the feel of a roller-dome with it’s mostly cement and steel make up, but it’s still a fun place to visit.
Just down the road from Rasmussen’s was Dick’s bar. Dick Dibble, an old Kenosha tavern owner, ran the small establishment just off the frontage road, about a mile south of highway 50. Dick’s was known as a “collegiate” hang out, quieter and more subdued than most of the other teen bars. (Which rarely saw subdued in their descriptions) Dick’s bar is long gone.
About two miles south of Dick’s, also on the frontage road, was The Chaparral. “The Chap” had a Country & Western flavor and was probably number two or three on the “rowdy” list. They occasionally featured live music, again, usually C & W or rockabilly. The Chaparral closed down long ago.
Now closer to town, just off of Highway 50 and Highway C, sat Earl’s Club. Earls transitioned into a “regular” bar and was in business up until about twenty years ago. Earl’s was another bar where you could get into a “dust-up” pretty easily. My friend Carl’s uncle, Earl O’Hare, was the proprietor, so we always got good service there. Being the closest to town, it was the most convenient and probably had the fewest pile ups by alcohol fueled teenagers trying to find their way home.
Rasmussen’s, Dick’s, The Chaparral and Earls were probably the most popular of the eighteen-year-old beer joints. Another teen bar I remember was called The Pit and was further out in the county. Further out in the county meant more gas money and more chances of a pile up coming and going, so it wasn’t on our weekly hit list. What I remember most about The Pit, it always seemed to be wall to wall dancing. (Nice chick hangout) The Klondike was another bar out in the county, where our group had a few adventures and misadventures as well.
Now there’s a few other bars that I remember, but don’t recall if they were teen bars or not. Shakey’s Pizza on highway 31, where Baker’s Street now sits, served eighteen-year-olds beer, I believe. Another bar, ill-fated though it was, was called The Thirsty Eye and sat right next to Mars Cheese Castle on I-94. The Thirsty Eye was a pretty rough joint, and a frequent target of our local law enforcement agencies, who had to visit it on a nightly basis to quell problems. As fate would have it, one day during a storm, strong winds blew the huge Mars Cheese Castle sign down, and it landed right on top of The Thirsty Eye. No one was in it at the time, fortunately, as it was totally flattened. The local authorities took it as a good omen and never allowed The Thirsty Eye to be rebuilt.
We had a pretty good time at those teen bars, back in the day. I don’t know how we survived all those wild rides home, but most of us are still around to talk about it.
**This article is dedicated to The Shelby Raiders, including my brother John, friends Dick, Gary, Crab, Peps & Os. And also to friends Jim, Joe, Carl & Ronna, Dale and George.
You are welcome to share Joe’s blogs on Facebook or any other media, in their entirety with citation acknowledging Joe as the author. Copyright protected, all rights reserved © Joe Campolo Jr.
Great article Joe. Remember those days…. we grew up in a great time.
Thanks Tom. Yes, we had some great times!
‘Earls’ was the one most frequented by me and my friends but we did make the rounds to some of the other joints you’ve mentioned.. I played in a local band named the ‘Starfires’ and I remember playing a number of times at a teen bar on Highway 41 close to the Racine county line . It may have been the ‘Thirsty Eye’ but I’m not sure if that’s correct or not.
I know I was happy about the opportunity to legally get loaded and raise hell but as the old people used to say, “these damn kids today.” As an official old person today in 2021, I can’t think of a more irresponsible thing to allow than having the local teens drive out to a bar, have a few or more beers and then get into a car, no seat- belts, air bags, bad tires, you know, I could go on & on and then allow them to drive home in that condition. Like most of us who partook in those shenanigans, to put it mildly, we were really quite fortunate to have survived those days unscathed. Sort of a primer In a way (all things military) for the days that were soon to come for those of us who were coming of age back in the day.
Thanks for sharing Duke. I recall many times waking up in my bed at home and having no recollection how I got there. You are right, amazingly most of us survived, and like you I soon went into the military and found myself in a peril of a different nature. “God watches over children and fools”, perhaps for a higher calling.
Earl’s was still in business, until about four or five years ago…The land was purchased by a tire & auto repair chain…A service garage, will be built there, in the near future.
Thanks for the info James.
Wonderful story Joe I worked at Earls and on Sundays helped out at the Pit when Earls was closed. Mike Bloss ran the Pit back then. Those were great times back then and a place where you could hang out and meet friends.
They were good times, thanks for sharing Tom.
Tom I don’t know how long this story came out but give me a call 715 214 6818 so we can check on old times.
Don’t forget Leo’s at I-94 and hwy E – good sized place with live music……Milwaukee kids went there, too.
And out in county was a little joint on hwy 50 just south of New Munster – think it was called Wanda’s.
I had forgot about Leo’s Carter, don’t remember Wanda’s. Thanks for the info.
The Mars Cheese Castle sigh fell and destroyed a bar called Sportsman’s. Thirsty Eye was about a half mile South of there on the West frontage road. It was most recently a truck sales before it was sold to Uline.
Well, all I can say is my memory is good, but it’s short! 🙂
How many times did I go over the the hy. 50 over pass tracks at a 120miles an hour with my 60 Impala and I can write this ?
I hear that. 🙂
here is a better one…………there were 3 of us that got wasted at the Brat Stop so bad that we agreed none of us could drive home. One guy had a brother Kenny who had just arrived about an hour ago.He agreed to take us home………….all 3 of us got in, I got in the back and immediately after driving onto hwy 50 this idiot took off like a bat outa hell. When we got to the first overpass the guy passed a guy right on the overpass going at least 70……….it is only a lucky miracle there was nobody coming or we would have been killed instantly.We gave the guy hell for sure, and asked him to stay the hell away from us from then on.
I think everyone who hit the teen bars has a few good stories like that. 🙂
For a good neighborhood place, there was the Nobby Lobby at Wilmot Road and 104th Ave as well as The Bohats at Bain Station Road and 104th Avenue.
Yep, hit the Nobby Lobby back in the day.