The original Illini Inn, an old hole-in-the-wall located at the corner of Fourth and Daniel, was certainly not the nicest bar on campus. In its final months, the iconic awning of the old Inn was dirty and falling in and the building looked as though it was on its last legs.
Despite its appearance, the Inn has been a University of Illinois tradition for decades. Plenty of generations of Illinois students made great memories here and visiting alumni loved to visit. One of the Illini Inn’s most notable features, the Mug Club, earned guests who chug their first beer an ID card and the right to drink out of a special glass mug during every visit. The upstairs portion of the bar has also been home to a variety of food joints, like Second Story Pizza.
At the end of the Spring 2018 semester, the old Inn was set to close and be demolished. News quickly circulated that the owners planned on rebuilding and creating a brand-new Illini Inn in its place.
As the new building went up over the summer, it was clear that it was definitely going to be much, much nicer than it was before. The new multi-story Illini Inn is situated beneath a highrise apartment complex managed by Green Street Realty. In August, just before the start of the fall semester, the new and improved Illini Inn had its grand opening!
The new Inn has an upscale, inviting, and modern atmosphere. With floor-to-ceiling windows, low lighting, more than enough tables and bar seating, the new Illini Inn spans three floors. The entrance leads to the main floor, which has high ceilings with modern light fixtures, a spacious and open floor, lots of tables and chairs, and a great main bar. Upstairs, there is a mezzanine level overlooking the first floor with even more seating. Downstairs, there is another bar, a Chief Illiniwek mural, and even more tables. Scattered throughout all of the levels there are televisions featuring sports channels.
While there are lots of new features, those who loved the old Inn will feel right at home with plenty of nods to its roots. In honor of the time-honored tradition of the Mug Club, the main floor features a mural of the Mug Club surrounded by shelving to store all the mugs.
To replace the old composition book keeping track of Mug Club members, there is a new sign to proudly display the number of members, which is guaranteed to quickly grow with the new building! Finally, as a nod to the previous Illini Inn, the original awning from the previous Illini Inn was restored and is proudly framed in the lower level.
If you haven’t been by the new and improved Illini Inn yet, it’s time to stop by and carry on one of most well-loved traditions of the U of I campus.