Question: What would Midsommarfest be without the chance to get a glögg slushie from Simon’s Tavern?
Answer: We have no idea! Luckily, we don’t have to find out. Next year, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of Midsommarfest. But, THIS YEAR Simon’s Tavern is celebrating its 80th birthday!
If you’re doing the math in your head (or like me, on your phone), that means Simon’s began operations soon after the 21st Amendment was ratified in 1934, but it was originally a speakeasy during Prohibition.
For more information about the history of Simon’s Tavern, check out this cool video by Bucket List Bars.
Throughout the history of Midsommarfest, Simon’s Tavern has been a huge supporter. According to Scott Martin, the current owner of Simon’s, the bar has been a sponsor of the South Stage since the festival moved onto Clark Street from its former (much smaller) location in the Thybony parking lot (now Walgreens). Scott has owned the bar since 1994, when he took it over from the son of the original owner, Simon Lundberg.
Not only has Simon’s played a huge part in the success of Midsommarfest, year after year, it has also put Andersonville on the map for the traditional Swedish glögg that Scott Martin brews each winter from a secret recipe passed on by the original owners of Simon’s. Starting the day before Thanksgiving, Simon’s glögg, served piping hot with raisins, almonds, and pepparkokor, is an Andersonville tradition that has garnered attention in national publications. Simon’s glögg can also be enjoyed during the summer in slushie form, thanks to Scott’s adoption of frozen margarita machines.
Several years ago, when Midsommarfest suffered from several days of rain and bad weather, Simon’s threw a glögg tasting fundraiser for the Chamber, helping us to make up some of the lost revenue. Scott has also contributed to the neighborhood in many other way, playing a Viking during the annual St. Morten’s Gos Day Parade; giving tours of the bar that highlight its rich history, and hosting a wide array of live music at the bar.
According to the Chicago Bar Project, “Simon’s continues to be a bridge between the old Andersonville, with its working class Swedes whose families have since moved out to the suburbs, and the hipper potpourri of folks that have since moved in.”
So, happy birthday, Simon’s! Thanks for being “the anchor of Andersonville” and one of the unique, local businesses that make this neighborhood special. May your “pickled herring” sign grace Clark Street for years to come!