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Somewhere between Detroit's Motown and Chicago’s Jazz - the Blues got lost and wandered into The Midway Tavern in Mishawaka!

Front of the Midway.

 

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 crowds.           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 been ordered."

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.    

Martha's Daughter, Albertina WassenhoveCyriel died in 1946, and Martha and daughters ALBERTINA and 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 CNN

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. 

 


"Keeping the Blues Alive!"

Open:   Mon-Sat 5:00p - 3:00a*  /   Sunday performances - open at  5:00p (see calendar)

(*closing time varies according to activity)

THE MIDWAY TAVERN

  ATM on Premise  | SMOKING ALLOWED

810 W. 4th Street, Mishawaka, Indiana 46544

PHONE:  (574) 255.0458, after 5:00 pm

We are a tavern also listed under; night clubs, nightclubs, and nightlife, bars, pubs, lounges, darts, pool table, live music, blues, jazz, live entertainment, cocktails, martini bar, banquet halls, and dance Halls

Web Site by Monte HershbergerspacerPhotos By Johnny Munoz Photography