Andys & McCabes

Andys & McCabes is a building, actually 3 buildings, that holds some mystery and intrigue for me.


The building was constructed in 1891. The original McCabes Lounge was a barber shop. In 1944 owner, James McCabe decided a tavern would be more profitable and DeKalb’s First Night Club began.  It was the 2nd business in DeKalb to be issued a liquor license after prohibition.  The first was Andy’s.

Andy’s was owned by Andy Pleasa when it opened in 1933.  At that time Andy’s was located on 10th Street.

The building that currently houses Andy’s was a pharmacy and a Rexall drug store in the very early 1900s. When the pharmacy moved out the Pleasa family moved in.  There was a restaurant in the basement, a bar on the main floor and they lived on the upper floor.

The Pleasa family owned and operated Andy’s until Sept. 1, 2000, when Bob Goering and a partner took it over. 

The rest of the chronology is a little sketchy.  It appears McCabes as a business might have bounced around to a few different locations within DeKalb landing at it’s current location in 1976.   Further, I gather it’s been through several owners.  My interpretation from the little I’ve been able to find out is that Bob and Glenn Goering bought and owned the business until 1991 when they sold it or lost ownership somehow and bought it back in 2,000 for $156K.    It also seems like McCabes the building may have seen service as a bank, a hardware store and a restaurant.


That was is the intriguing part here’s the mystery.  According the Northern Star newspaper, Andy’s and McCabes is part of the Renew DeKalb project.  You can even seen the development plans here.  It’s one of the coolest looking buildings in DeKalb so that makes sense and comparing this image to the plans you can see some of the work was done.  According to various forums discussing DeKalb and especially those frequented by NIU students McCabes was a happening place where most everyone ends up.  Yet, the business is closed.  So what happened?

I thought Bob Goering may be able to help me clear up the chronology of the building and update me on the current circumstances.  Being not completely without resources through property, business, tax and license records. I’ve identified a fair amount of information about Bob Goering. But none of the associated phone numbers are in working order.

So, if anyone who reads this has more information about the history of McCabes or the history of this building at 315 E. Lincoln Highway,  please drop me a comment.

Courtesy of Curtis Clegg a local photographer:
“In front of the far right doorway of this building, a horseshoe is embedded in the sidewalk. It probably dates back to the time in the 1870s when Phineas Vaughan had his blacksmith shop there. Vaughan was instrumental in helping Joseph Glidden manufacture his patented “Winner” barbed wire.”



Andys & McCabes — 44 Comments

  1. From what i understand my great uncle use to own McCabe’s. He married the previous owner’s wife. This was the 30’s or 40’s i believe? Not sure exactly on the dates. His name last name was Blake.

  2. I just read the article the Northern Star did. Like i said previously wasn’t sure of the dates, apparently it was 1968 that my great uncle Wendell Blake took over McCabe’s. He was my grandmother’s brother.

  3. Mccabes was running in the early sixties in the building more recently occupied by the Paperback Grotto. Wendell Blake was in charge and a pleasant barman he was. Wendell’s wife Ellen was an executive secretary at the Richardson Company on South Seventh (later Spaulding Composites).

  4. Hi,

    A good friend named Jeff Jensen told me he once lived upstairs from McCabe’s nightclub either during the 70’s or 80’s. He gave me a Bartenders Manual from that time period. The introduction is written by Glenn Goering.
    Jeff passed away about 10 years ago.

  5. Wendell did, indeed, own the property until approximately 1975 when Harry Goering ( father of both Glenn and Bobby) bought it. Due to their age difference, Bobby was not an owner at the time but Glenn had partial ownership at the time. I worked there while attending NIU in 1975. I understand they lost their liquor license years after that supposedly from under age drinking. Glenn was most active in several remodels that included the upstairs apartments built in the mid-70’s. There was a bank of Dekalb on the corner back then but looks like it was demolished at some point. As I remember, it was a hardware store prior to being turned into a bar. Unfortunately, downtown Dekalb has been allowed to fall into a state of decay. If the mcabes building has been remodeled, its been years ago as it still looks tired and smells of smoke. Too bad. I had a lot of good memories there.

  6. I tended bar at Andy’s from 1972-75. place would open early am for the 3rd shift crowd breakfast (shots, beer and hard boiled eggs). Mike Pleasa son of Andy was the owner. He had two sons Mike and Steve that helped run the place. His mother lived upstairs and would bartend in mornings. I would come in around noon for afternoon business man crowd and stay till closing. NIU students would roll in for night crowd with evening specials i.e. footstopmper band and 25 cent beer night, etc. Mike had a HUGE collection of Jim Beam decanters (later years they were moved to basement). the basement room was for parties and the weekly ROTC mtg. I knew a few of the bar tenders around town and we would take care of each other with free drinks when making the rounds. Things changed a little after a under aged girl from another school was killed in the Uprising Bar by a freak accident involving a broken/shattering glass. Another neat bar in town was called the Candlestick Inn it was a V shaped building a block down nestled in by the railroad tracks. Stevens Bar was a “towny” bar on the outskirts of town – students stayed away from there. Some good memories …

  7. I worked at McCabes as a bartender from 1982-1985. Glen Goehring (Bobby’s brother) owned it at the time. It was the hotspot for nightlife in Dekalb. I helped Glen build an addition on the bar in the summer of 1983 (or so) — OK, I helped by using a wheelbarrow to take debris out to the garbage with Rick, one of the bouncers. I was the first bartender on the newly opened side of the bar in 1983. Many good times in that place! Can’t look at any of the windows on the second floor without remembering something insane that happened in or near every one of them (the rooms were mostly inhabited by bar employees at the time – many after hours parties that did not end until dawn). There used to be a trampoline up on the top floor (we were told it was formerly ballroom). The building actually looks nicer now than I remember it.

    • I remember that addition–me and my girlfriends used to call it “The Vegetable Stand” because we would grab our drinks and go sit there to ‘veg out’ and watch the world go by. From 1983-1986. if it was a Friday or Saturday. We were almost always down at McCabe’s. Still have a few t-shirts from winning turtle races. My boss (I worked at a restaurant in town) lived in an apartment upstairs and there was always some sort of after-hours going on in one place or another. Wonderful, wonderful memories. Lots of laughter and dancing and over-imbibing. We LOVED McCabes!!

    • Hi, I loved McCabes, especially the watermelon shots. Do you remember the recipe for those? It was a must have for the turtle races. Huck em Fuskies!!!

  8. I grew up in DeKalb in the late 40’s-50’s. At that time McCabes was where the Grotto is now, it was owned by a Tommy McCabe. The reason I know this is because my Grandfather was a farmer & it was the place for all Irish farmers to meet on Saturday afternoon!

  9. As a student in 1976 we went each Monday for “Growler” night….quarter beers were specials too but don’t remember what night….They had live bands and one night Rick Derringer stopped in and played…he had played at the Union that night…anyone remember “Growlers”????

    • Do I remember growlers? I used to sell them to guys like you on Tuesday notes! I actually convinced Rick Derringer to get up on stage and perform for our little gathering that day!! I was back in Dekalb last year and while it has grown considerably since we went there, the downtown has really been neglected over the years. Don’t know where Glenn Goring (owner of McCabes) ever landed but I don’t think either he or his brother Bobby live there now. So many memories, so many great times in DeKalb!

      • Glenn and Harry at least are still around town. They’ve got big realty signs up on the building now, they were renovating it a lot last summer. Who knows what the plan is now that the weather is improving though.

  10. I attended NIU in 1975 and McCabe’s was at its present location and was the most popular bar for college kids in town. It had a large circular bar and in the middle was a 20 foot circular fish tank that contained a shark and exotic fish (the latter didn’t seem to survive long due to the former). It was a wild time because you only had to be 18 years old to enter and be served in DeKalb bars thanks to it being a “Home Rule” form of government.

    • I worked there during that time and actually feed the fish on Friday Happy Hour dozens of gold fish and watch the groupers devour them! The home rule created an even bigger problem back then because instead of 18 yr olds posing as 21 yr olds, we then had 16 yr olds posing as 18 yr olds! Great time and I miss those days very much!

  11. I went to NIU 1973-1977, but I didn’t start until I was a 23 year old Freshman. Went to McCabes a couple of times, but it was the young Freshman crowd and seemed like a pick-up bar. Switched to The Shamrock which had people more my age group and one of the best local bands, Electric Battista.

    “More People Got Laid… When Electric Battista Played… Than With Any Other Band”

    • This is Fun! As an NIU student I cooked and tended bar at the Shamrock from ’78 to ’80. It was owned by a Tom McCabe, an older guy who was known as “the Hawk”. I’d hang out at Andy’s or McCabes now and then… I think I preferred the former, as I preferred the quieter joints when I wasn’t working.

      Yes, Electric Battista was a great dance band, and no doubt many got lucky after hours on Battista Night.

      I understand “the Rock” is now “annex Lord Stanleys”…. probably not the same vibe.

      One of the guys I tended bar with was Joe Kellehan… he ended up buying another local bar, out on fourth st. I wonder if he is still around.

      On the same block as Shamrock, next to the Uprising, was a little coffee shop, “Dots Grill”. Killer biscuits and gravy!

  12. The liquor store part of it, to the right in the picture, used to be the DeKalb Bakery in the 1970’s. It became the liquor store in the early-mid eighties. And the HUGE DeKalb bank used to be right next door at the corner of Lincoln & 4th but it was torn down years ago.

    • During the early/mid 80s, McCabes used to sell White Castles in the liquor store. I can remember them going down and coming up!

  13. i worked there in the mid 70s for several years as did several of my college friends. I met my husband who was a bartender/bouncer there. About 6 of us have recently reconnected thanks to linked in and other social media and were hoping to have s reunion there at some point within the year. I am bummed that it is closed. This was such a big part of all of our college lives. When we find the rest of us, we will almost have the whole group from the mid 70s ready to walk down memory lane of growler night, parties upstairs after hours, long lines to get in, and Cheap Trick playing there before they headed over to Rec Lion Inn on frat row. Most importantly , ending each night with the song “we gotta get out of this place ” playing on the juke box before Goering had the lights go on to close the bar. Loved McCabes

    • By any chance were you affectionately “big” Nancy or “Little” Nancy? I worked there during that same time. Do you remember Kurt Pauley? I remember two Nancy’s, both were very pretty but one was tall and the other short, hence the nicknames.

  14. I went to NIU ’78 to ’82 and spent a lot of time in McCabe’s (and the other local establishments) starting in ’79. As a part time gig I used to deliver a free weekly newspaper called the DeKalb Nite Weekly which featured a “co-ed of the week”. In the spring of 1982 the co-ed of the week was a 16 yr. old DeKalb High School student named Cindy Crawford. I still have that issue and she autographed it for me at an event in downtown Chicago years ago. Her eyes got wide when she saw it and she said “Where on earth did you find THAT?!?”

    The small long rectangular bar hugging the train tracks near the NW corner of 4th and Lincoln Hwy. was the Candlelight, not the Candlestick. Mondays were $1,60 pitchers and raffle tickets for a free 8 inch frozen pizza.

    Wednesdays were Growler Night at McCabe’s. $3 to buy a growler and $3 refills. I amazingly still have mine.

    As said above the “liquor store” space on the east side of the McCabe’s building was the DeKalb Bakery in the late 70’s. I used to deliver a few copies of the Nite Weekly in the freezing cold mornings and one of the ladies behind the counter used to take pity on me and give me a free donut or pastry.

    When the Candlelight building was demolished late 1980 or early 1981, they opened in a small building around the corner from McCabe’s on 4th Street, which is Rt. 23. It was just north of the DeKalb Bank building, also mentioned above. By the mid 80’s or maybe late 80’s both of those businesses were out and the buildings demolished.

    Rosita’s is still a mainstay at 7th & Lincoln, the Uprising at 1st & Lincoln is closed and in June 2015 there was a No Occupancy, Building Unsafe sign on the front door.

    I hung around a bit with an older guy who lived at Douglas Hall who tended to like the quieter bars, we went to Dick’s 1009 a few times, it was on roughly 6th and Lincoln, near the Gordon’s Hardware. The address was actually on 6th, hence the “1009”. It was then KJ’s Tap or something like that, may be closed now, not sure.

    There was a place in the block east of Shamrock/Lord Stanley’s, same side of the street called Patrick’s, building is still there. One time a buddy and me had an Economics test at 11 a.m. on a Friday and we planned to down a few beers afterwards. We went to Patrick’s which was kind of an Irish bar and the guy says “no drinks today until 3 pm” and we ask why, and he says “It’s Good Friday”. It had never occurred to us!

    We used to go to The Red Lion on Hillcrest near Greek Row a lot, mostly to see a Marshall Tucker style band called Appaloosa. They had a fiddle player nicknamed “Mad Dog” who used to drink shots of Jack Daniel whiskey during their sets.

    Oh, and about McCabe’s. In 1981/1982 one of the guys who was helping to manage the place, may have been an owner, was Herbie, who owned Herbie’s the pizza puff place up near Greek Row a few doors from The Red Lion. The last song of the night was always Herbie’s choice and it was always “Wooly Bully” and man did we get tired of that, we used to hoot Herbie down and then walk out. He probably planned it that way.

    A few years ago I learned Herbie had died, as did Frank Trebusak, who was the publisher of the DeKalb Nite Weekly. I delivered papers for him for 3 years and when I graduated and was putting together my resume he said “Don’t say you were a delivery guy, say you were a Distribution Manager.” So I did and sure enough I get this interview and the guy interviewing me says “So what does a distribution manager do?” and I told him the story, which he found funny … he must have liked my sense of humor because I got the job and worked for that company almost 10 years.

    • I knew Herbie! In fact I worked for him for a short time at his sandwich shop out by the -Red Lion, and then later for a business partner of his when I managed their game room, which was also in the Red Lion plaza, down on the opposite end by Dr. Dawg. I did not know Herbie had passed.
      I was a student from 1982-1986 and by that time they had given up Woolly Bully and instead switched over to Happy Trails. To this day whenever I hear that song it makes me smile.
      I also tended bar down at The Uprising in the early 80s. I used to love the reactions my fellow (male) bartenders would give on Tuesdays…alternative night. . .where the most beautiful women in the room were not actually women! I left IL in 1989, but still read the Daily Chronicle online, several months back they had an article about the entire building The Uprising is in being condemned, broken sewer piped, rotted out floors, etc. Which is sad, because they’ll probably just tear it down, the same way they tore down the old post office with the copper dome right across the street. I hear it’s a Walgreen’s now. Sigh.

    • I used to mix sound for a Chicagoland band named Pezband. We played in Dekalb on one weekday school night in 1979. I can’t remember the name of the club but the stage was fairly wide and about 3′ high. The stage area was in a area of the club that was about 2 stories high. The mixing board was in a balcony and the bar was right underneath the balcony. The place was all sort of rough cut wood and had a live warm sound. I made a recording of Pezband’s live performance that night and it was the best live recording I ever did of Pezband and one the best I did of any band.

  15. What a trip down memory lane. In the mid 80s i hit all those places Andys, McCabes, Shamrock, aka the rock, new wave night at the Uprising. Omg slider night at McCabes— big excitement in a small town. I met my first husband in McCabes—Der Kommisar was playing and i asked him to dance. Sigh. Oh to be young again and in that place.

    • Man, what a trip down memory lane! I knew Bob & Glenn Goering owners of McCabes. Knew Herbie(and his pizza puffs) I was the DJ on Wednesday night “New Wave Night’, at the Uprising from ’79-’84. Owner at that time was a guy named Steve. Steve sold the bar to Bob Daniels who changed the name to Otto’s and owned it for quite some time. After the Goerings sold McCabes, a middle eastern guy named Mufid Saleh (not Mohammed) took over. The V-shaped Candlelight bar was best known as the place you could go and get free peanuts by the bucketful and just toss the shells all over the floor. You were ankle deep in shells by closing time. That bar was owned by Mickey Halikias. He’s still in town. Just saw him yesterday! Before the Red Lion was the Red Lion, it was known as the Three Kings (1975-76). Saw Cheap Trick play there for a $2 cover charge. Also saw the Ramones play when it was the Red Lion (Wazmo Nariz was the opener). I’ve DJ’d at the Uprising, Andy’s, Red Lion and Amnesia (’92-’97). Oh those were the days!

        • Yep, it’s me. Do you remember the Uprising managers, Bernie and Eddie Moy? Bernie is still around selling real estate but I wonder whatever happened to Eddie

          • It’s funny, I remember the name Eddie Moy but I cannot put a face to the name. The only people I recall from working at the Uprising were you and that tall guy named Adolph and a mean bouncer named Terry. I was usually at the front bar. I enjoyed working at the Uprising–great tips, great music and an endless stream of characters. I left IL in 1989 but it is fun to dive back into old memories. Like your mention of the Red Lion–I worked for Herbie Leise back in the late 70s when he had that sandwich shop there in the Red Lion Plaza. Whenever there was a good band I’d take a friend and we’d sneak in thru the back door. Tsk, tsk, under-age imbibing!

          • Eddie Moy was a Chinese guy that was Bernie the managers side kick (asst mgr) The tall guy with the blonde frizzy afro, Adolph, is still in town doing real estate stuff. I just cant seem to picture you in my mind. Did we interact much? I can remember many people from then, but I cant get a clear picture of you in my mind. How long ago did you leave DeKalb?. Have you ever been back? Just curious

          • I was the tall gal with long dark hair, and I usually worked at the front bar in the corner. Last name was Ziegler then. I don’t think we spoke a whole lot (I was usually slinging drinks and you were slinging records) but I clearly recall the looks you’d give me when I would ask you to play that new sensation, Boy George LOL. I’ve been in Arizona since 1989. I have two brothers still in the area, one in Creston the other in Shabbona. Sadly, haven’t been there in years. The DeKalb area was a wonderful place to grow up, and all these years later I still think of it as home.

          • The memories are coming back. Thanks for sharing. I’ve never ventured far from the music scene as I’m currently the General Manager of WDKB FM here in DeKalb. Been doing radio since 1978!!! Beats working for a living.(LOL). Enjoy Arizona, and if you’re ever back in Corntown stop by the station and say HI

  16. The restaurant in the basement was the pheasant room. My grandmother, Dorothy Wilcox ran it. It was kinda famous for feeding college kids who couldn’t afford to pay, and was a favorite stop of al Capone when he’d go out to the Shannon area. She went on to run food services at niu before she retired. When I was a kid I used to ‘help’ in the kitchen at niu by filling deviled eggs. (I was only like 6 or 8 years old) Last time I went through DeKalb, couple years ago, I noticed a picture on the wall at Tom and Jerry’s of my grandmother in the pheasant room front of house. Pretty cool.
    Some time later, I worked as a bouncer at McCabe’s for Glenn and Herb Leashe. Must have been around 1981 or so.
    I still ride through DeKalb every chance I get. It changed a lot, but still has that small town feel. Us kids would walk from Park Ave to first and hit Prince castle for ice cream, Egyptian for a movie, or over to the lagoon and kish to fish. Every kid should have a p!ace this cool to remember. I hope all y’all still there appreciate it.

  17. Ah McCabes!
    Was a proud participant in the debauchery from ’83 thru ’85. Will never forget the 25 cent friday happy hour watermelons! And they werent no wussy shots, no, they were king sized, served in a quantity custom made for any true alcoholic! I can still recall the first time I ordered one post college. Cant remember where it was but it certainly wasn’t in the warm fuzzy surroundings of the metro Dekalb area. The guy gives me my watermelon in a shot glass. Hey man, I thought, where is the watermelon I grew up on? The one served in a glass handled mason jar!
    Or who could forget Glenn Goering’s tuesday night bar tending class? What a great way to kick off the weekend. Im still mixin ’em big and strong just the way my mentor taught me!
    Does any one remember Charlie? The super old, super awesome dude that use to cut the rug with all the young coeds?
    So Glenn, if your reading this, please get those renovations done. The world needs McCabes now more than ever!

  18. I graduated from Northern Illinois University in 1972. I turned 21 just before my senior year and remember spending many nights at McCabe’s and Andy’s. McCabe’s had a live band several nights a week. Andy’s had a Tuesday night drink special with Harvey Wallbangers going for a whopping 25 cents.

    Many good memories from those days.

  19. I was born in DeKalb and spend much time at most of the city’s bars . I lived above the grotto from 1983 to 1984 and had a lot of parties. I do remember most of the people bloged about on this page. Bobby Gorning is still around and lives above Andys at this time. I do run into him from time to time at six Street McDonald’s he and I will talk about trying to re-open Mccabes. I did spend 25 years running liquor establishments in Dekalb . Amnesia Night Club, Molly’s bar, Sgt peppers , The bottle Store.
    The 1990’s was the Dekalb bar seen heyday .

    Andy’s ,Mccabes , Ottos, Lord Stanley’s , Olearleys , edwardos, Amex, Amnesia Night Club, Molly’s ,Paridise Club, Crystal Pistol, Fat Boys, The Jungle, Roges tavern , Sullivian,s and Twins

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