|Twin cities offer charms in the least expected places|
|Written by Katherine Kussmann, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Thursday, 11 November 2010 00:11|
Students unfamiliar with the Bloomington-Normal community may be missing out on some of the best places, hidden in the most unlikely locations.
Whether food, ice cream, or a trendy thrift store, the Twin Cities have more to offer than just the usual McDonald’s or Dairy Queen. While they may be delicious in their own right, finding a place off the beaten path is most of the fun.
Though it is necessary to have a car to find some of these places, it is worth the trip. Western Tap in Bloomington is a perfect example. Tucked away in a neighborhood, this unexpected saloon style bar and restaurant is the perfect place for a burger, or to have a good time with friends.
“It is amazing to see people come in here that have lived here their whole lives and have never heard of it. It is laid back, the bar is nice and the food is cheaply priced. Our atmosphere is really laid back,” Jennifer Anderson, manager of Western Tap, said.
In the community for over 40 years, the bar and restaurant has an old west style to it complete with flat-screen TV’s, pool tables, darts and an overall good atmosphere for a laid back time.
“We have a large beer garden in the back with bags and you can sit and relax. We get a lot of people that want to hang out, have a nice dinner instead of going downtown or a widely known place. We get our good share of crowds. Everyone is really friendly to everyone,” added Anderson.
After grabbing a burger at Western Tap, patrons can grab some ice cream at Carl’s, another local establishment that many people don’t know about.
What sets Carl’s apart from other ice cream places like Dairy Queen is their handmade hard ice cream and unique flavors of the season.
“Every month we come up with an ice cream special. Different times of the season we have special flavors of our hard ice cream. Right now we have pumpkin and apple pie. Every week we change the flavor of the soft serve so we have a flavor of the week,” said Nikki Julian, manager of Carl’s on College Ave.
With its other location conveniently placed on Locust Street, Carl’s is still a lesser known ice cream place. While they do offer homemade, soft serve and grill items, Carl’s is still a hidden gem that people may not know about.
“More people know about the one on Locust. Even though this has been here for a few years, they still don’t know we are out here. Unless you are going on this side of town, you don’t really run into it,” added Julian.
While some think of hidden gems and hole-in-the-wall places to be restaurants, there are many more places in Bloomington-Normal, including a thrift store that works for a better cause.
Mission Mart, located in Bloomington, is a thrift shop that donates 100 percent of their proceeds to Home Sweet Home, a local homeless shelter that runs Mission Mart.
“Mission Mart generates funds to pay for food, staff, the building and that is where we are today. They didn’t really make a lot 10 years ago and now they have been transformed into a nearly million dollar operation that the shelter depends heavily upon,” said Sabrina Burkiewicz, vice president of marketing and retail operations for Home Sweet Home Ministries.
In the community for 93 years, Mission Mart is what Burkiewicz calls the ‘anti-thrift store thrift store.’ They pride themselves on the quality of items for sale in 17 departments and over 6,000 square feet of thrift store that offers women’s, men’s, holiday, children, purses, jewelry and much more.
Burkiewicz looks for students to come out and see what Mission Mart has to offer and even closes the store down for students to shop on occasion.
“We love students. We want them to come,” she said. “So often they forget to look in the rest of Bloomington. Mission Mart is one of the best in Bloomington.”