"A place to eat & drink, sing along and watch the lazy river linger by, and just watch as the sun sets across your highball, casting a long shadow toward the oyster bar."
The Empire State Building began construction on St. Patrick's Day, 1928. It was one of the fastest construction projects ever accomplished. One year and forty days later it was open to the public. We decided that with the 2601, we would take a bit longer. Try to do it right (Hey, the Statue of Liberty took 21 years to get open.) We didn't take that long but we weren't tearing stuff together, either. We have gone to great lengths to preserve a bit of Peoria area History by erecting this Eating & Drinking establishment. First off, those bricks on the sidewalk out in front came from residential sidewalks in Peoria. We were able to get the last ones available from a stockpile at Peoria Brick & Tile Co. They're very old. They're very nice. They've been walked on before . . . maybe even by... your great Grandma or Grandpa.
When you pass through our solid brass front door at the main entrance (custom made for the 2601 in New York City) or through our Service door of Brass and Copper we hope you realize you have entered a unique venue.
The main structural columns found throughout the building are timbers scavenged from the rubble of the old Pekin Locomotive Garage when it was demolished in the early 1990's. They date back to the earliest part of this century, when things were built to last. Originally, they were 28 feet long with each massive timber cut from the eye of a fir tree to measure 11x14 inches.
The Railroad-timber columns support ceiling joists and a ceiling deck made from solid fir Lumber that came from the old Hiram-Walker Rack House in Peoria. As best we can tell, the Rack House went up in the Post-Prohibition era, circa 1935. Rumor has it that the Patriarch of the family may have requisitioned the very material for Hiram Walker during his tenure at the distillery. Each ceiling timber was originally 4x12 inches, but they were trimmed to the heart, to clean up the imperfections brought on by a lifetime of use and the storage of a decade. The Rack House was torn down in the mid 1980's to make way for the Archer Daniels Midland plant.
Take a minute to look at the bar and admire its solid granite top. (Feel free to set the oysters down at this point.) Each slab of beautiful salmon speckled True Georgia Granite is three inches thick and weighs over 600 pounds. This hand polished Granite was shipped to St. Louis to be cleaned for use. We even had to purchase the saw & blades to have it cut to the beautiful finish you see here. You've seen this granite before. These highly prized granite panels originally adorned the exterior of the old B&M Clothing store located at 201 South Adams Street in Peoria. We tried to use it everywhere we could; look around you'll find 14 slabs of this rare material throughout the 2601.
More granite is found in the bathroom vanities and on the walls, maybe a small ledge here or there. It's a bit of a deeper color and was quarried in the great state of Wisconsin. This granite graced the facade of the South Side Bank Building on South Adams Street.
The footrest you use at the epicenter of the Oyster Bar is buried in 24 inches of concrete and bolted to the concrete I-beams that support the flooring. The floor is supported by high rise flex-core. The booths are supported by even more concrete just to get you face to face with your server. The concrete was then acid-washed and stained to the color over a two week period. All this time spent to make a place for your shoes.
Those huge lamps along the riverside wall look new, but they are actually antiques with a story all their own. In another, earlier life they were outdoor post lamps . . . gas lights, actually . . . which were originally located at the Leisy Home on Moss Avenue. We acquired them from the Puterbaugh Estate on Prospect Ave. These hundred year old lamps were carefully cleaned, polished, converted to wall mounts, and brought up to modern wiring standards for us by the New Metalcraft Company in Chicago
We hope you appreciate the custom casework, booths, trim and other fine woodwork throughout the building. It was all milled and crafted from top quality solid woods by Roecker Cabinets, inc. Morton, IL.
So you'll know there's always time for another oyster or two. . . or six...we had the clockmakers at Electric Time, Inc. build a clock just for the 2601. A magnificent timepiece crafted from a clock spotted in a photograph of their production line. The clock style has not been produced since 1928. In fact, the president of the company had to authorize our clock making because the last person to make such a clock was his Grandfather. This clock was designed and crafted just like it was done before the Great depression, sketched out and then made by hand.; a modern clock with the look and feel of a time gone by. You'll find it on the South wall, being blue for each of us.
The air inside the 2601 is always fresh, filtered, temperature controlled and fit to breathe. We like to blow it around from time to time using our Cinni ™ fans, which we think look nifty and work pretty darned well. These fans are still hand crafted in India by real Indians, who use traditional fabrication methods and finishing giving each fan its own unique quality, characteristic and karma.
Over in the corner you'll see a structure that looks like a broadcast booth. It's actually a broadcast booth. It has all the state of the art sound equipment necessary to conduct live radio broadcasts & recordings, celebrity interviews and of course mix the sound for the 2601 so that the live entertainment doesn't keep you from the conversation of your old cousin Manny rambling on next to you. It's new, technologically modern but with a retro attitude. We just couldn't resist lining the walls with the classic 1940's style (and hard to get) acoustical tile to give it that special vibe.
Take a walk out to the Quarterdeck to admire the view and check out the galvanized steel conversation & drinking tables (handmade) and Galvanized steel deck chairs, imported from France. Those large black tubes above you will keep you warm and toasty when the gales of November come early. You can sit back and relax darn near year round. Those lights above our walkways came from the old Wurlitzer Piano Factory in Dekalb, Illinois salvaged from the original stockpile used to light Jonah's Seafood House for the last 13 years.
We sincerely hope you enjoy all the sweat, tears and fun that went into the artifacts and construction of the 2601 Oyster Bar. Please visit our humble establishment often and help give it the robust spirit of conversation, food and fun that it so richly deserves.