35 Years of Cheap Eats and “the Coldest Beer in Town” Fast Eddie’s Bon Air
ALTON, IL: (STLRestaurant.News) – Fast Eddie’s Bon Air – According to the “Beer With Your Buds” survey, when Americans go out for a drink, the majority order beer. The national survey was commissioned by the makers of Budweiser in honor of National Drink Beer Day (Sept. 28, 2016). Beer’s popularity isn’t news to patrons or proprietors of Fast Eddie’s Bon Air at 1530 East 4th Street in Alton. They’ve been serving “the coldest beer in town” since 1981, although the bar’s history goes back even further.
The Bon Air was opened by Anheuser Busch in 1921. They operated it as a bar selling their beer products, including Budweiser, for about 10-years. Then new laws took effect that prohibited breweries from owning taverns. So they sold it to Sam Balco. He, and later his son, operated the Bon Air until 1981. That’s when “Fast” Eddie Scholar bought it, and things began to change.
Scholar quadrupled the size of the bar, taking it from 80 to more than 400 seats. A major expansion in 2008 added a heated, outdoor patio and doubled the seating. With 800 seats, huge lunch crowds, and standing-room only evenings, it’s not hard to believe they may sell more Anheuser Busch products than any other bar in the Midwest.
Fast Eddie’s Bon Air is known for more than just cold beer. After customer requests, Scholar added food. The simple, seven-item menu of tasty, affordable eats is one of Fast Eddie’s biggest claims to fame. At just $1.99, the half-pound “Fat Eddie” burger may be the best bar food bargain anywhere. And their basket of fries is legendary. But it doesn’t stop there. For just $3.99, you can get the “Big Elwood on a Stick.” It’s a generous kebab of succulent, marinated beef tenderloin and green pepper. Also $3.99 is the “Hot Chick on a Stick,” Cajun-style chicken wings skewered kebab-style. The famous, Peel N’ Eat Shrimp is still a deal at 39-cents each! Don’t forget the Pork Kebabs and homemade Brats.
As Food Network’s Alton Brown said when he featured Fast Eddie’s on Feasting on Asphalt, every dish is “a perfectly seasoned standout.” Brown called it a classic roadhouse, but with better food.
The bar has grown and changed over the years. Eddie Scholar was fond of saying there’s always a party at the bar, and with a huge variety of top-named bands playing on the Fast Eddie’s stage every night, he may have been right. Eddie Scholar himself died in 2015, but his family still runs Fast Eddie’s Bon Air the way he did.
Some things never change. You still have to be 21 or older to enter Fast Eddie’s. There’s still a one-drink minimum. They only take cash! And there’s no takeout! But if you go, you can still see some of the bar’s original Anheuser Busch signage and the beer will definitely be cold.
Fast Eddie’s Bon Air is open Monday – Thursday: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Friday-Sunday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
1530 E. 4th Street
Alton IL 62002
Phone: (618) 462-5532
Video courtesy of Food Network