When brothers Russ and Joe Carey opened Carey's bar in 1954, the scene was a little different than today.
They opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 1 a.m. And, unlike the present, Carey's was not a college bar.
When the Carey brothers started the business it was meant to be more of a low-key bar. At one point, members of the Strollers organization entered the bar and the Carey boys met them at the door, walked them in and then walked right out the backdoor.
They didn't like the college crowd for fear of fights and bad checks. If it did get rowdy in the bar, the instigators were kicked out "for life."
The brothers also had a habit of cashing Vermillion city workers' paychecks. It was estimated that there was usually no less than $60,000 in the safe at any one time.
That same safe is still in use at the bar now, but the demographic appeal has changed.
Paul Michels, who bought the bar from the Carey brothers in 1972, is credited as the person who first embraced the college crowd and drew them to the establishment. Chris Karantinos later purchased the bar from Michels.
While Michels was owner, Carey's received their liquor license. Before that only beer was served. Michels also pioneered the idea of selling kegs.
In 1998, Michelle Maloney purchased the bar from Karantinos. She started as a bartender in August 1991. She has seen changes since she has been involved with Carey's, but has always tried to make sure the business didn't lose that same appeal it has had since its inception.
The bar has gone through many cosmetic changes over the years, but has still managed to keep the traditional feel that patrons want and enjoy. In 1991 the current booths and a new bar were installed. Carey's expanded in 1996 when it purchased the building next to it and, essentially, doubled the size of bar.
Concrete was also poured outside of the bar for the beer garden, whereas before, it was just a gravel parking lot.
Despite the changes, alumni swear the bar is the same as when they were students. Many alumni who are in town will drop by and talk of the great times they had during their collegiate days.
Part of what makes Carey's so popular and successful is the bartending crew. Todd Jones has been working there since 1990. He has a wealth of knowledge about the bar business and the tradition of Carey's.
In April of 2010, current owner, Mat Zeman, purchased the bar from Maloney. Zeman started as a bartender at Carey’s in 1999.
Thank you to the Volante and the Vermillion Plain Talk. Information was gathered from their archives. See the original articles: