Echo of empty walls: How Art’s Tavern got its ceiling pennants

From staff reports

Ever pause while eating your basket of smelt or tater tots or drinking an IPA at Art’s Tavern and glance up at the pennants attached to the ceiling above you? Ever wonder how they got there? We did, and we asked Art’s owner Tim Barr for the story.

It seems that when Mike Wiesen bought the tavern in 1986 from the Sheridan family—and brought Tim aboard as his manager—some in town were sore about Sheridan selling. So they stripped the walls and took away all the memorabilia—even the mirrors. When Wiesen took over, the only decoration was a sign above the jukebox for the Glen Lodge, with previous owner Al Gross’ outdated phone number.

“We needed something cheap to put on the walls, so we started asking people for pennants,” said Tim. At that time Art’s had a tiled ceiling; the pine would come later. “Mike and I started slapping stuff together. … There was one hell of an echo in there without the pennants.”

The hard-working staff at Art’s— Glen Arbor’s original gathering place—removed all the pennants once a year to clean the walls and ceiling. Tim estimates it takes 40 man hours to take them all down and put them back up. But he’s not complaining. Those pennants are part of the allure.

Tim estimates people drop off at least two dozen more pennants every summer. Some have gone as far as having them special delivered. When the Chicago Cubs won the World Series in 2016, Cubbie pennants arrived at Art’s via FedEx.

“People send them with their relatives, they send them with their kids, they send them with their parents. They come to us in every way and shape possible. We put them all up.”

How many pennants are on the ceiling at Art’s? Look up and start counting.