More Local Bars at Risk of Closing Their Doors

By Joe Bennett

January 16, 2011 Updated Jan 16, 2011 at 11:31 PM CDT

For a number of bars in the area, 2010 was their last year of business.

"It's never good. You never like to see that," says Mark Donahue, co-owner of the Fieldhouse in Campustown.

While business by Bradley has been booming behind the bar, Donahue says he has certainly noticed the hard times for those who are both competition and comrades.

"Pretty much everybody knows each other," according to Donahue. "You pretty much try to support everybody, and you do as much as you can and you hate to see somebody go down."

One bar that could turn its lights down permanently is The Whammy Bar in downtown Peoria, a bar that prides itself for hosting a diverse variety of local and national musical acts.

Peoria Theater spent all day Sunday hosting a benefit to raise funds for The Whammy Bar. Peoria Theater's manager, Luke McCann says in these times and in this business, one hand washes the other.

"I'm trying to help them out and keep live music in Peoria," says McCann. "We happen to be a live music venue as well."

Brandon Isbell and his brother Jeremy opened The Whammy Bar just nine months ago. Brandon says they've had great customers and greater feedback, but a slow start during slow times downtown has hurt.

"The Marriot project across the road got pushed back. The museum project as well," Brandon Isbell says. "We were kind of counting on that to bring in some extra sales and it just wasn't there."

Sunday's benefit includes twenty one bands playing on two screens and it goes on until early Monday morning. The Isbell brothers hope it brings in enough to keep them from closing, like Bar Louie on the north side.

"Carbon also closed just over the last week or two," according to Isbell. "I don't think we're the only ones in this boat, you know. But we're going to do everything we can to remain open instead of just closing our doors."

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