RANDY SHARER | RSHARER@pantagraph.com
When your day is done and the rat race lost or won, you need a place to celebrate or commiserate.
A prime confine to unwind for college students and the work weary has been Pub II, the iconic sports bar and restaurant perched like a 4,000-square-foot fort at 102 N. Linden St., where it has protected free time in Normal the past 43 years.
While other local watering holes have their devotees, none can match the longevity of Pub II, which received one of the first liquor licenses after Normal ended its self-imposed prohibition in 1974.
Pub II further separated from its competitors in 1998 when Playboy magazine named it one of the top 100 college bars in the country. The business drew kudos for affordable food, drink specials and “college bar” atmosphere.
Keeping the red, white and blue bedecked celebrants well fed and thirst-free in front of six big-screen and 25 smaller TVs were many of Pub II’s 50 employees.
Standing sentinel over the jubilation were walls festooned with sports memorabilia honoring ISU and Illinois Wesleyan along with Chicago’s Blackhawks, Bulls, Bears, Cubs and White Sox among others.
On the day this story was first published, June 18, 2014, co-owner Terry Stralow left a thankful voicemail at The Pantagraph. That act of kindness became poignant 10 months later when he died at age 64 in a plane crash with six others returning from the NCAA basketball tournament in Indianapolis.
Stralow's legacy is honored as well as those of Scott Bittner, Andy Butler, Tom Hileman, Jason Jones, Aaron Leetch and Torrey Ward thanks to a campaign called Project 7, which asks everyone to perform seven acts of kindness each April 7.