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EATS OF THE WEEK

Eats of the Week: The Windjammer Lounge, locally owned since 1972

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BLOOMINGTON — The Windjammer Lounge, 2302 Stern Drive in Bloomington, is this week's pick for Eats of the Week.

Windjammer has been locally owned and operated since 1972, for 49 years. The bar moved to its current location in 1994 and has been owned by three people, Ricky Feeney, Kathy Niepagen and now Brian Coombs of Downs, who will celebrate four years of ownership come November. 

"People enjoy Windjammer's laid-back atmosphere," Coombs said. "It's a friendly place when you walk in. Everyone feels welcomed."

Windjammer has daily drink specials, daily lunch specials, sand volleyball, live music, 10 televisions and an outdoor beer garden. The bar's most popular menu items include the Joe's lasagna lunch special, the tenderloin, and the fish dinner served on Wednesday nights from 5 to 9 p.m.

Windjammer has a daily cook who has been with the establishment for 27 years. 

Windjammer 1

The Windjammer Lounge is at 2302 Stern Drive in Bloomington.

"We love our customers and staff like they are part of our family — we take the saying 'JamFam' seriously! We are always here for our friends," Coombs said.

Coombs said Windjammer is best known for its good times, good stories and its history. He described the bar as "your local 'Cheers,' we welcome all and any," and used the phrase, "there's no place like home," to describe it as well.

Bartender and bouncer Elias Martinez has worked at Windjammer for a total of 19 years and was born and raised in Bloomington-Normal.

Windjammer 2

The Windjammer Lounge at 2302 Stern Drive in Bloomington.

"It's a great family atmosphere; I love working with the staff; it is a close-knit family," Martinez said. "I enjoy seeing the smiles on our customers when they come in. This place is my second family."

As with most local bars and restaurants, COVID shutdowns were difficult for Windjammer, but they were able to make it through because of continued support from customers. Coombs said he can't thank them enough. 

Former owner Kathy Niepagen also happens to be Coombs' mother-in-law. Niepagen worked for Windjammer for 11 years before taking it over in 2001. When she died four years ago, Coombs and his wife Leslie stepped in to keep the business going. 

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"Kathy brought people together and was a giving soul," Coombs said. "We hope to carry on her legacy by welcoming all, giving back to our community and making sure people have a fun, safe and friendly environment to have fun with family and friends.

The Windjammer Lounge is open 11a.m.-1 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 11a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Sunday. Curbside pickup and carry out are available. Daily specials can be viewed on their Facebook page or by calling 309-663-2233. 

Italy-based chocolate company Ferrero, which produces Baby Ruth, Butterfinger, Crunch, Tic Tac and more, began construction for its 70,000 square-foot chocolate processing plant in Bloomington. The facility, expected to be finished in 2023, will be the company's first of its kind in North America. READ MORE HERE.