Opened during Prohibition, Kane County bar celebrates 100th anniversary

The year was 1924, during the Prohibition era in the United States. Even though consuming alcoholic beverages was illegal, it didn’t stop Flora and Albert Mott from opening a bar in western Kane County.

Now known as Mott’s Lounge, that bar celebrates its 100th anniversary this summer in Burlington.

Still in the family, the bar is owned by Flora and Albert’s great-grandchildren, Ted and Tamara Getzelman. To celebrate the historic milestone, the family will host a party at the bar Saturday, July 27, with food trucks, drinks and a performance by the Blooze Brothers.

“(Mott’s Lounge) wasn’t the original name, (the name) changed multiple times. It was once called The Cafeteria during Prohibition,” said Robin Getzelman, daughter of the owners and accountant for the business. “It actually started in a garage in Burlington, and there were rumors that Al Capone and his men were around and helped start this.”

Getzleman said she’s heard stories that patrons would come to Mott’s from the former train depot nearby and ask Flora Mott for gin or whiskey. She would respond with a secret code for a location in the cornfields behind the bar.

“If patrons were drinking and the cops came in, they’d go out the back and hide in the fields,” she said.

Flora sold the bar to Shirley and Don Getzelman, Robin’s grandparents, in 1980. Their son Ted and his wife, Tamara, Robin’s parents, became sole owners in 2014.

Shirley Getzelman and her husband Don bought Mott's Lounge in Burlington in 1980. Courtesy of the Getzelman family

While the building has been updated over the years, the Brunswick bar from the 1920s still remains in use today.

“We are a historic place,” Robin Getzelman said. “I don’t (know) many businesses that make it to 100 years, let alone 100 years with the same family who have the same passion for the business. I grew up with Mott’s Lounge. I had an admiration for the bar and what it means to be a Getzelman and be in Burlington and have pride your family has built this very special place.”

Mott’s is a staple in the community, as it has been the host of gatherings for local nonprofit organizations for decades. The bar also has been a local hangout for folks to enjoy a cold beer after work or celebrate a birthday.

“We’re here for the community, and we want to continue the family legacy,” Getzelman said. “It’s a place to laugh with friends, meet new people, also to share the stories and memories of people who’ve passed on, and to create new memories.”

The bar is well-known for its hand-pressed burgers, especially the Mott’s burger, which is Shirley Getzelman’s secret recipe. The menu changes frequently, offering a popular Friday night fish fry and other homemade dishes.

Their most popular beverage? A drink called Swampwater.

“Swampwater is my grandmother’s recipe, and it is a vodka-based drink,” Getzelman said. “I tell people it kind of tastes like wine and it goes down very smooth.”

Two special new drinks will be unveiled for the birthday celebration in July. In honor of its 100 years, Mott’s will serve a $100 dirty martini, with three kinds of olives and gold flakes. The other is a $100 birthday cake martini, which has gold sprinkles, a gold candle and whipped cream. Both come with a souvenir martini glass.

Mott's Lounge, 175 N. Main St. in Burlington, will host a 100th anniversary celebration July 27. Courtesy of the Getzelman family
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