Classy, friendly and full of die-hard Cardinals fans are the words that immediately come to mind when describing the wonderful 5 year Anniversary celebration that took place just this past weekend at Mike Shannon’s Grill located in Edwardsville, Illinois. Now as many of you know, Illinois is a state in which you are apt to experience a day that is reminiscent of summer followed by a day that might end in snow, and this has been especially true as of late. However, the weather for this event cooperated beautifully and as I arrived at the restaurant I was happy to see so many smiling patrons enjoying the live band and festivities outside on the patio with heat lamps that I assumed were set for the slight chill that accompanies the weather as the sun sets. Because this event took place in the evening, I was able to find parking fairly close as some of the other establishments within the plaza had begun closing procedures and that was very pleasing considering the rather large turnout.
As I made my way to the door, I was met by a wonderful group of ladies who were welcoming everyone to the anniversary celebration and handing out souvenir bags much to my surprise. I graciously accepted as did the other couples who appeared just as happy and as pleasantly surprised as myself. Directly after, we were greeted warmly by a man who introduced himself as Silas and directed to all of the events going on both indoors and out, which made for quite an interesting list.
When I first entered the restaurant I took notice of the many patrons milling about and exuding an air of happiness. I decided it was best to “go with the flow” in terms of circulating the restaurant and taking in all of the wonderful touches. Immediately to the right of the entryway in the dining area there was a very impressive ice sculpture on display that gave new meaning to the phrase “fingers crossed”. As I made way across to view and appreciate the piece of art and the red decorations situated tastefully throughout, It soon became evident that while this celebration was meant initially to celebrate a 5 year milestone, it was also equally as much about keeping the well wishes and high hopes alive for the Saint Louis Cardinals throughout this season and more.
Directly behind me, I noticed two tables that had been set, one with a complimentary nacho bar and another with drink samples for patrons to try. I inquired as to the nature of the drinks, and the people in charge of the stand introduced themselves in good humor as Cliff, Christy and Sean O’Brien. They went on to say that the three drinks on display were varying types of Bourbon, and they offered an overview of each. Because I’m not the largest fan when it comes to bourbon, I found myself rather cautious, but with the good humor and wealth of knowledge from the trio my mind was quickly put at ease. I tried two but declined a third, and given the expression on my face following the second, along with the good natured laughter of those present, It was quickly decided that forgoing a third was definitely in my best interest. After more friendly banter was exchanged, my companion and I decided to try the nachos on display.
After sampling the nachos and meeting some of the guests, I made my way through the rest of the restaurant towards the sound of live music coming from the patio. The musicians playing looked younger which made me skeptical initially, but what they lacked in age they made up for with enthusiasm, humor and very well played music. They introduced themselves as Earth Dad following the first set of songs and even though I myself wasn’t familiar with their band, I knew that if they were good enough to be chosen by Mike Shannon for such an important milestone, that they were most definitely worth listening to, and honestly I’m glad I did. Because of the youthful appearance, I fully expected to hear newer songs that I was less than familiar with, but to my surprise, they were playing slightly older songs that fit my genre of music perfectly and they did so with their own personal touches throughout. I was impressed not only by their song choices but also by their ability to make the songs their own.
As I was enjoying the music, a few of the servers stopped by my table with complimentary appetizers, each one tasting better than the last. I started with a lovely smoked Salmon that had been placed on a round piece of freshly baked soft bread, followed by a serving spoon of Ceviche and tomato bisque topped by a cheddar crouton and I ended with a prosciutto ball that had been stuffed with the perfect ratio of cheese and rice. Given that they were appetizers, one would not expect to have a feeling of fullness but I must say that much like the many other decadent appetizers that I have the privilege of trying at Mike Shannon’s, these appetizers were prepared in a way that can only be described as generous and cooked to perfection.
Just as I had finished my array of samples, I was quite surprised to see Mike Shannon himself walking around the patio area and taking the time to introduce himself and personally thank everyone for attending. Because Mr. Shannon is such a busy man, I found myself gaining a deeper level of respect for his down to earth attitude and genuinely friendly nature. As he talked to everyone, he followed the conversations with a fist bump before excusing himself to the next set of people in hopes of being able to meet and thank everyone present. I knew this was quite a goal given the turnout, and while I’m sure he also realized how large the task of meeting each person was, the smile he wore never once faltered.
As he came by the table I was occupying along with a few other couples, he relayed sincerest thanks and even stopped for photo op requests with a few of the patrons. Following our meet and greet with Mr. Shannon, my companion and I stayed on the patio a bit longer to take in the wonderful music, gorgeous weather and all-encompassing air of relaxation and friendliness. Shortly after the sun set, my companion and I decided that it would be a good idea to walk through the restaurant once more to take in the décor that Mike Shannon’s is known for, as well as appreciating the touches that had been added especially for the event before leaving for the night. If there is something to be said for the decor at Mr. Shannon’s Restaurant, it’s that every time you have the pleasure of dining here, you’re sure to find something that you didn’t notice before.
As we were taking the time to appreciate everything, we found that we weren’t alone. There were other couples discussing the sports memorabilia and even going so far as to offer background stories to accompany them. I found some of the stories to be just as fascinating as the souvenirs themselves. As I made my way to the door, it didn’t take long for me to realize that because of Mr. Shannon’s congeniality and obviously impressive business skills, this would more than likely be the first of many more anniversary celebrations full of good humor, great food, and an all-around sense of joviality that won’t soon be forgotten. In closing, I would like to extend congratulations to Mr. Shannon on a well-deserved 5 years in the restaurant business at this location and a sincere thank you to all who worked so hard to make this celebration one for the books.
Author: Jessica Kirk-Gregory