The Lodge Off 66 is a story of taking something
old and historical and giving it a new life while preserving all
about it that is a part of the rich Logan County history with Route
66. Indeed the establishment is not on Route 66, but there are
documented ties between the Lodge and such notorious Route 66
characters such as Al Capone and Coonhound Johnny.
As a part of the grand opening event hosted on Saturday, July 2nd
there was a ribbon cutting ceremony outside at noon.
The new owners of the establishment are Kristi Powell
and Randy Jones. Outside at noon, the owners along with their
spouses, parents, children, and even grandchildren gathered behind
the ribbon for the ceremony led by the LDN ribbon cutters.
Joining Jones, Powell and the families were Hartsburg Mayor Norma
Bathe, Renee Martin representing Senator Sally Turner who was unable
to attend, Representative Tim Butler and Geoff Ladd with the
Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byways. The Logan County Tourism Bureau was
represented by LCTB board member and Lincoln Alderman Rick Hoefle
and LCTB Assistant Director Lexi Groves.
With everyone gathered behind the ribbon the ceremony began with a
thank you expressed to Jones and Powell saying that the two were
taking an historic business establishment in Logan County and
breathing new life into it while preserving its historic value.
The floor was then given to Powell and Jones. Powell thanked all
those who were there to help celebrate the moment. She said “Randy
is a wonderful partner. Who knew that we would end up opening a bar?
We love the history.” She went on to say that they could not have
done what they are doing without the support of the community and
she pointed out and thanked her husband Deron for his support, as
well as both the Powell and Jones family members.
Mayor Bathe said that on behalf of the Hartsburg community she
wanted to welcome Powell and Jones and thanked them for their
investment in the community. She said, “This is a place of history
and it is always good to hang on to history.”
Representative Butler spoke and offered a special
present to the new owners. He said, “When Kristi said they were
going to be doing this as the Lodge Off 66, I thought it is kind of
off 66. But I think this speaks to the power of Route 66. This is
going to be a great stop for people traveling 66.”
Butler presented the bar with the Route 66 Historic Route marker
that is a part of the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byways promotion of
the Mother Road. He concluded, “Thank you guys for doing this.
Congratulations, this is awesome and thank you for promoting Route
66 so on behalf of myself and the Scenic Byways.”
The cut was led by Nila Smith with Lincoln Daily News who is also a
member of the Logan County Tourism Bureau. She said that earlier in
the week she had been asked about the name of the bar and had noted
that inside there is a sign that says that Tom’s Lodge is six miles
from Lincoln, thus it is six miles from Route 66. She said there is
documented history that Capone and Coonhound Johnny were frequent
visitors to the establishment and that those two characters
epitomize the rich history of Route 66 locally.
She said, “On behalf of the Logan County Tourism Bureau we want to
say thank you to Kristi and Randy for keeping the history intact.”
The last person to address the group was Geoff Ladd
with the Illinois Route 66 Byways. He also congratulated the pair on
their new business venture and spoke about the valuable history that
is being preserved and promoted. He noted that there are also ties
between the Lodge and the Mill on Route 66 located in Lincoln.
Ladd was also documenting the ribbon cutting and said afterward that
he will be working on a history for the Scenic Byway. He said that
he will release information to the press at a later date.
When all the speakers were finished, the group stood
for the posed picture then Jones and Powell snipped the ribbon on
their new business venture.
Inside there was a large refreshment table with plenty of food for
everyone. Outside, live music provided by the 70’s Acoustic Show.
In the week before the grand opening Powell talked about the
decision to purchase what is most famously known in Logan County as
Powell retired this spring from a long career with Heartland
Community College, serving at the Lincoln Campus. She said that in
the back of her mind she has always harbored a thought of owning an
establishment such as the Lodge.
She said that growing up watching Cheers on television, she
envisioned that kind of place, where everyone knew each other and
were grinds that enjoyed spending time together. She said that she
also had an interest in the history and with this business she saw
the potential to preserve history as well as that feeling of
comradery among the patrons.
Jones and Powell’s husband Deron are friends and it was those two
who discovered that the lodge was for sale. Jones expressed an
interest in buying the bar and Deron Powell took the idea to Kristi
and the partnership began.
Powell said she was attracted to the building because it tells its
The original business was Hutton’s Lodge. The structure began its
life as a hunting lodge in Louisiana. It was disassembled and
shipped to Illinois on the railroad and offloaded from the railcar
just feet from where it is now located.
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The first bar opened in 1929 and was maintained as
Hutton’s Lodge, owned by Jerry Ogden and his wife Jennie. Al Capone
visited Hutton’s regularly where Jennie did the cooking for the
business. It is reported that Capone loved Jennie’s potato salad and
often praised her for her cooking.
The business was next owned by a couple named Lonnie and Mae and the
business was called by their first names. One of the fun facts about
the bar when it was Lonnie and Mae’s is the pet monkey that was
always at the bar. Powell talked about the monkey saying that the
story goes that Lonnie had taught the monkey to swipe loose change
laying on the bar. From time to time, he would let the monkey roam
freely on the bar, and he would snatch up all the coins laying
there. The customers so enjoyed the antics that they often put
change out on the bar just to watch the monkey do his thing.
Tom Imming of Hartsburg purchased the bar in 1969 and changed the
name to Tom’s Lodge. It remained Tom’s Lodge until March of 2015.
Tom Imming passed away in 2014 and his wife Barbara kept the
business going for a year, but finally made the decision to close
the bar and sell the property.
Powell said that inside the building the history shows in the
structure. She pointed to the ceiling in the bar area and noted that
the roughhewn logs that construct the ceiling are original to
Hutton’s Lodge and she loves them.
Inside there were other treasures. She said that she
and Jones had found an old Budweiser Carousel upstairs and had
cleaned it up and brought it down to put on display in the social
Four of the bar stools are original to Tom’s Lodge. Powell said that
they needed some attention, so she and Jones had painted each one a
different color that reflects the colors used in their logo.
Another prized possession of Jones and Powell is the Tom’s Lodge
sign that hangs over the bar. Powell noted that it was put up to
tell people how far it was to places they knew such as Decatur,
Peoria, St. Louis and of course, Lincoln.
Resting beside the Tom’s lodge sign are two more prized possessions,
both photos of Coonhound Johnny at the lodge.
Powell said that the partnership is working out well and includes
Deron though he stays somewhat in the background. She said Jones
handles the bar work including the cleaning and stocking of product.
He also tends bar, as does Kristi from time to time. Deron acts as
their business consultant.
Kristi said they closed the deal on the property and the business at
9 a.m. and opened for their first day of business at 1 p.m. She said
they had purchased the property and the business corporation so
there would be no interruption in licenses needed for liquor and
Looking back now a few weeks after the fact she thinks maybe they
could have taken a little more time to re-open, but it all worked
out. She said that there was so much to learn from dealing with
taxes and payroll to staff management and then just taking care of
the beverage menu and inventory.
She said she had good friends in business, Lisa Mestinsek of the Top
Hat Creamery in Lincoln and Colleen Roate of the Spirited Republic,
who helped her out a lot with understanding some of the tasks she
needed to perform.
The Lodge Off 66 will feature a variety of beers and mixed drinks.
Powell said they will offer pizza, but don’t intend to get into the
food to the same extent that previous owners have done.
She and Randy will have their own drinks and Randy has already got
his, a spiked lemonade he calls “the RJ.” Kristi is undecided on
what her beverage will be but is working on it.
The primary changes the partners have made at the business included
an outdoor patio through the back door of the bar. Concrete is set
and the construction of a pergola is underway.
Powell said there will be special events and activities at the Lodge
and she is looking into providing live entertainment nights and
events that include food trucks and outdoor activities.
A large screen television in the community area of the Lodge will
give patrons an option for watching local sports. That portion of
the Lodge is also very comfortable with a large sofa, a raised
table, and a regular table where folks can gather to visit and share
And, the stories are going to be a big part of the establishment.
Powell said she is looking forward to spending time at the bar and
visiting with the patrons and drawing from them the stories they
have of the Lodge in its previous lives.
She noted that the Lodge mantra is “Stop for a drink - stay for a
story.” The story is what Jones and Powell look forward to most, and
hope the community will stop in to share their personal history with
Tom’s Lodge or stories passed down through the generations of
experiences at Hutton’s Lodge, and Lonnie and Mae’s.
The Lodge Off 66 is open seven days a week. Hours are Monday through
Thursday 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday through Sunday 1 p.m. to 11