The historic Hi-Way Tavern and Cafe building along Route 66 in Edwardsville, Illinois, is being renovated into a Krupp Florist.
The Edwardsville Intelligencer newspaper reports Walter Bergman has worked in the past few weeks to preserve the old mood of the building at 463 E. Vandalia St. (aka Route 66) but make it more welcoming to customers shopping for floral arrangements.
Bergman will be setting decorative vases at the back of the bar where bartenders for decades had poured drinks. They are illuminated from above by light bulbs that he added after discovering that someone had removed the old ones from their sockets.
Bergman points to the front of the bar.
“This is going to be our point of sale for customers,” he said. “They’ll be able to see what’s going on and be able to enjoy the place. It’ll be fun. It’s a flower business … you gotta be friendly.” […]
When Bergman took over, the bar “smelled like smoke and old, stale beer.” That’s no disrespect to the bar’s earlier owners, he hastens to add; just an acknowledgement of its past. This spring and summer his mission has been to get the building ready but also preserve some its history.
Bergman soon will replace two front doors and windows and add canvas awnings.
Bergman said the total cost of renovations will be about $63,000, of which $13,300 will be reimbursed by the city. The Hi-Way Tavern building sat outside Edwardsville’s Façade Improvement District, but city officials deemed it worthy of help.
Krupp Florist has operated a shop in nearby Belleville, Illinois, since 1955.
Sicilian immigrants Frank and Dora Catalano opened the Hi-Way Cafe and Tavern — a combination liquor store, cafe and tavern — along Vandalia Street (aka Route 66) in 1934. Their advertising slogan was “Good Cheer with Good Beer.” The business eventually expanded into the house next door. It was known for friendly service, spaghetti and biscuits-and-gravy. It later became Neumann’s Bar and Restaurant for 25 years.
The tavern reopened as the Hi-Way in 2014 after being closed for two years. The Hi-Way Cafe and Tavern was inducted into the Illinois Route 66 Hall of Fame in 2014.
(Excerpted image of the Hi-Way in 2017 via Google Street View)