Going Local: Schooner’s

 (Left to right) Mike Svob, Adam Jones, Bob Groetken in front of Schooners on Grove Street (Photo: Erik Prenzler/AdaptBN)

(Left to right) Mike Svob, Adam Jones, Bob Groetken in front of Schooners on Grove Street (Photo: Erik Prenzler/AdaptBN)

“Almost ever since 1984 our Buffalo Wild Wings has been our favorite menu item” said Bob Groetken, owner of Schooner’s at 810 E. Grove St. in Bloomington. In 1983 the restaurant/bar opened just south of Empire Street on Main Street in a previous Pizza Hut. In 1986 Schooner’s moved to the Grove Street location.

“Our outdoor garden patio is popular and we usually get a solid four months of use every year,” said Bob. Bob is partners with Gene & Greg Gephardt of Peoria. They also own the adjacent Grove Street Bakery, which opened in 1996. Another Schooner’s is located in Peoria and it is owned & operated by Greg Gephardt.

“I started day #1 and enjoy our many loyal customers” added Bob. Schooner’s has about 3,000 sq. ft. of space with seating for about 160. “We average 40-45 employees and finding new employees is always a challenge,” said Bob.

“Friday and Saturday nights are our busiest time and we usually have music on Saturday nights,” added Bob. Customers will remember that Schooner’s did not take credit cards until only 2-3 years ago. “Our margins are small, but we finally needed to switch," said Bob.

In the last 10-12 years the bar, dining room and kitchen have been fully renovated at Schooner’s.  “We did the dining room in 2014 all in four days!” said Bob. “The no-smoking law in 2007 really affected us, but it prompted us to “gut the bar” added Bob.

Over the last 35 years, many things have changed, but Schooner’s has remained a popular place in Bloomington- Normal. “Our menu hasn’t really changed that much,” said Bob.

Schooner’s is open 11-11:30 pm Monday to Saturday and 11 – 8 pm Sundays.  For more information, visit their website at www. Schoonersbl.com