Just past the bar area is an authentic
1920's room, with crowded tables, a stage, and some of the best live
music in the Midwest!
The Midway Tavern's ability to
attract big-city talent - names like Rod Piazza (voted "Best Band of
the Year" 3-of-4 years), Pine Top Perkins, Barrelhouse Chuck, and
scores of Others - may be the fact it draws large enthusiastic
Exerts from "Venue Review" by Jordan Linville
Watch Video Documentary
HISTORY of the MIDWAY TAVERN
MARTHA (photos-top left) came to Indiana from Koewacht, Holland in
1920 with her mother, her father - a shoemaker - and five siblings,
and married Cyriel Antheunis from Belgium in 1922. He worked at the
BALL BAND plant in Mishawaka and Martha worked at WILSON shirt
factory until they purchased the MIDWAY in 1924.
Cyriel was a good customer of the MIDWAY, and one day he came in and
the owner was mad, claiming he wanted to sell it. Cyriel said he
would be interested, but that he had to talk to Martha, who said,
"if he wanted to give it a go, they could do it!" For $8,000, at 7%
interest, they gave it a go. At the time the MIDWAY had dirt floors
and a pot-bellied stove.
Because prohibition was in effect the
bar was being run under the name
"MIDWAY LUNCH"! They served chicken for 25-cents and
near-beer went for a nickel. They also sold bootleg hooch, some
Martha made herself and some made on one of the nearby farms. All
the moonshine was kept in a garage out back. "She'd would place a
glass in her apron," Albertina says is how he mother served illegal
alcohol during prohibition. "She'd walk back to the garage, fill it
up and bring it back into the bar. She'd have to check to make sure
no strangers (or police) had come in before she would serve what had
From time-to-time, Chicago bootlegger Al
Capone did business in Mishawaka, and when he came to the
"Princess City" he stopped at the MIDWAY with a dozen roses for
Martha. At first, Albertina says her mother didn't know who her new
customer was, but she did think he was "nice, friendly, good
looking, considerate and all the nice adjectives!" It was years
later, she says, that Martha learned about the killer inside Capone.
This was 1924, before his reputation preceded him and, with her
being from the Netherlands, she did not recognized Capone. Martha
always thought he was trying to case-out the place to see if he
could sell her bootleg hooch, but he never broached the subject. So
maybe the visits were simply R and R!
In 1930, the MIDWAY was caught selling illegal
booze. "We were closed for 9 months" Albertina says.
"Padlocked" is the word by the police." The family spent the next 9
months in Holland, then returned and re-opened.
In 1933, prohibition was repealed and the building was remodeled a
year later; adding a floor, stage and booths in the dance hall in
back. Except for adding air conditioning and extending the stage,
the Dance Hall has not been changed since 1930.
died in 1946, and Martha and daughters
TONI continued running the MIDWAY.
In 1948, Martha married retired factory worker
Archie Van Holsbeke, who died in 1960.
In 1988, Martha was inducted into the
"Bartender's Hall of Fame" and her unique accomplishments featured by
PEOPLE MAGAZINE, the
CHICAGO TRIBUNE and
Martha died on January 19, 1990 at age 91, after spending 66 years
behind the MIDWAY bar. Martha's daughter
Albertina Wassenhove says she still keeps a video of Martha
doing her "chicken dance" behind the bar!
Tucked away in a quite residential neighborhood, the MIDWAY TAVERN
is considered a "hidden treasure" and valued entertainment
attraction for the City of Mishawaka and Michiana area.