Route 66 News

Hi-Way Tavern being revived at old Edwardsville location

The Hi-Way Tavern and Cafe, which began on Route 66 in Edwardsville, Ill., in 1934, will be revived at its old site in a tavern and eventually will serve food again, reported the Edwardsville Intelligencer.

The building at 463 E. Vandalia was occupied by Neumann’s Bar and Restaurant for 25 years. However, the newly reverted Hi-Way will hold a grand opening Saturday and Sunday during the Route 66 Festival in Edwardsville. That’s the same weekend the Hi-Way Tavern and its founders — Frank and Dora Catalano — will be inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame.

The bar is now owned by Mike Jones and Jeff Cox, who want to bring back a “hometown, neighborhood bar atmosphere”:

The new Hi-Way won’t be offering food for the first year. “Our goal is to have food next year and to put a patio in the back,” Jones said. “Hopefully, that’s going to be in the springtime.”

The new owners are bracing for a big crowd during Hi-Way’s grand opening weekend. The Quarterdraw Band will play from 5 to 9 p.m. both days, and employees will be barbecuing in the parking lot. “Drink specials” will be available both days.

The Intelligencer published a story about a year ago about the Hi-Way, when the tavern was closed and for sale. Some historical details:

In April, 1934 the Catalanos set up their new business on E. Vandalia Street as a combination tavern, café and packaged liquor store. They called it the Hi-Way Tavern and it was an immediate success. The country was starting to find its way out of the Great Depression, so traffic on Route 66 was on the rise and passing right by their front door. Their business plan was simple, nothing fancy, just good home-cooked food and reasonable prices. Their opening advertising slogan was “Good Cheer with Good Beer.”

Dora ran the kitchen and Frank worked at the bar. As their children grew older, they also worked in the business. In 1950 they decided to expand by buying Ed McLaughlin’s house and bringing the front of his lunch room forward, in line with the tavern. Then the entire building was bricked to blend the multiple additions and buildings. If you look closely at the west side of the building, you can still see the roofline of the old house. The house portion of the new building was not used as part of the business, but rented out as an apartment.

Here’s what Neumann’s looked like in October, via Google Street View:


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(Old image of the Hi-Way Tavern via 66Postcards.com)

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