Top Ten: Ghost Bars of Wheeling

As we all know, some of Wheeling is often considered 10, 20, or even 30 years “behind the times.” It’s fun to flip things on its head and actually go back a couple of decades to check to see if it’s true.  In this experiment we find that a lot of the bars that were the places to be in the 1990s, do not exist anymore.  Although some have evolved into something different, some of them have disappeared entirely (or as in one case actually sank in the Ohio River). We give props to the survivors: The Alpha, TJ’s, The Glassworks, and Wakim’s, and we pay tribute to the gone, but not forgotten – the Ghost Bars of Wheeling’s ’90s.

Editor’s Note: It’s been 20+ years since we have been to these places, and we probably couldn’t describe them correctly the day after we were there, so please feel free to correct us and fill in the blanks.


#10 Capone’s

Just off Route 2 in North Warwood, this small club had an outside deck where “anything could happen.”  Looks like it’s vacant today, and after checking things out again, we are wondering, where the hell did anyone park?



#9 Clators

We are pretty sure this place is where Figaretti’s now stands, in Clator.  We do remember excellent chicken sandwiches, and one time we all got our asses kicked in the parking lot.



#8 Ernie’s Cork and Bottle

This was the place to be when the Italianfest used to close down Market Street and VERY late at night.  We remember phones situated at each table; we are guessing in the swinging ’80s patrons would use them to invite guests to their tables.  We also remember sunken floors and secret rooms?  She still stands there today, most likely for sale for a good price.  C’mon hipsters; this one has you written all over it.



#7 Graceland

Way out there on Cherry Hill, Graceland was a big place that could get away with hosting things like the Tough Man Contest Calendar Girl Competition, sigh.  This jukebox geared more country, and we remember colorful decor, but not that much to tell the truth.  Today the footprint is covered by a housing project.



#6 The Firehouse

We remember this North Wheeling establishment most resembling something from a big East Coast city.  A former firehouse, The Firehouse seemed to thrive on the release of Icehouse Beer, which was the pinnacle of “Ice Beer.”  By the way, what the hell was Ice Beer?  Was Zima Ice Beer?  The place still stands today, and like the Cork and Bottle, looks vacant and is probably for sale.



#5 The Office Lounge

This Downtown place must have really made a huge impact on us because we don’t even remember where it was.  The picture below shows the still in operation McClure House,  but where the heck was this place?  This was a place for dancing; the bathroom was always really crowded, but there was an available alley, just not sure; we need your help here.



#4 Jaybo’s

This was an Elm Grove late ’90s must.  We remember Brett Cain just killing ’90s tunes, and that’s about it, but it was definitely a great complement to a pre-game at Wakim’s, which has got to be one of the few places in the country, that at least at the time, would serve liquor, but not mixed drinks, only shots.  Jaybo’s is where the current Silver Chopsticks is now.



#3 Captain Ed’s Floating Lounge

I think most people agree that this place sucked pretty bad.  But the fact that it was on a barge off of 48th St., in the river, and you had to walk a plank to get on the barge and that it didn’t close, it SANK, has to put it in the Top 3.  There have to be so many Weelunk stories about this place.  We remember when the FBI came to check IDs, not sure if they came by boat or not; we had some stellar fakes and got by.  Again the barge SANK, so this is what it looks like today.



#2 The Swing Club

It was in Fulton and was the Wheeling icon of this time period.  Yes, it is now Generations, and we think it is under the same ownership, but it is not the same place at all.  (Weelunk loves Generations BTW, see here: Through the Generations ).  The first time we went to the Swing Club, five of us used the same fake ID, and I think we might have been juniors in high school.  The downstairs was the place to chill, and the upstairs the place to dance.  Try closing your eyes and playing this song, and don’t tell me you are transported to a way overcrowded, smoke-filled, flannel filled, dirt-stash filled dance floor…and have fond memories:

Ginuwine – Pony


#1 Mac’s Club

Mac’s is No. 1 because it was great, it closed without warning, it was within walking distance to somebody’s home where you could crash, and now its replacement is something from the opposite spectrum of culture – a family dentistry.  We remember the sound of every downed beer bottle breaking after the bartender threw it down the Woodsdale laundry style-chute.  We remember very tight quarters and a secret room in the back.  And we remember songs like these on the jukebox:

Pearl Jam – Black

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Honorable Mention:

Knotty Pines, Billy’s Burgers, Bubba’s, The Lightning Rod and The Eagle Club

167 Responses

  1. Dave

    I can tell you some stories about Bars in Wheeling that my family owned back in the days of paddle wheel river boats. My great grandfather owned a bar on the banks of the Ohio River. Made enough money to retire in 16 years. After a short retirement he sold the bar on the Ohio and bought two new bars in Fulton. Gave one to each of this 2 sons just before Prohibition started. The bars turned into speak-easy’s. My grandfather made enough money selling boot-leg whiskey to buy 32 houses in Fulton

  2. Dave

    I may have missed an entry. Got a bit tired of the duplicate posts. But I did not see HUMWAY’S on the Island mentioned. If there was a more eclectic, insane, not to be believed, semi-dangerous, that couldn’t have happened there, establishment in the past 50 years in the Wheeling area I must not have found it.

  3. MEllen

    I’m originally from Bellaire, but spent quite a bit of time in Wheeling in the l980’s patronizing the Oddessy Lounge, Crazy Horse, Elbow Room, Next Door, a “key club” located in some alley (may have been the Cork), Monte’s in the alley between Main and Market Streets, Yacht Club, Fast Freddie’s, listening to Castleman’s Run at the Checkerboard. I moved to Phoenix in l989 and haven’t had fun like that since.

  4. PirateRooster

    How about the Blue Caboose?? I bartended at the Cork and Bottle for a good part of the 80’s. I remember after tin pan alley closed some guys used the bottom floor as a key club. Many a nights we crawled out of there when the sun was coming up.

  5. Patricia Wilson

    No mention of the White Front, it was where the parking lot for the Barnes & Noble store is now. Maddies Lounge on the North end of the Island, Alphies right off of the Fort Henry Bridge, JC Bar on Jacob Street, the Green Lantern, Zanke’s Bar, the Social Club on 18th Street.

    • Fran Johnson

      My grandmother Emma Flaherty was the manager of the Italian social club in the early 60’s. Men only. But my favorite was Ziegenfelder’s ice cream on 18th street, his homemade candy was so good. Right next to St. ANTHONY’S church where I was baptized!

    • Dave

      I worked at Mac’s in the late 1950’s. Owned and operated by John & Della McFadden. The best times were the Friday Night Fights on TV and John’s famous Hot Dogs with chili sauce. We sold them by the dozen. The backroom was added to the bar for the new college students at that time. John and Della were very good to me and treated me like family. I miss them. They got to be too old to run the bar and closed the bar and moved into one of John’s homes on Valley View Ave.

    • Harold T. Holmes

      Macs Club is WHere The Gentle Dental Building on the corner….gutted the interior and redid…. I helped Dr. Rybeck & Dr. Lough with this transition…..circa 1999-2000 is now on Washington Avnue

    • Harold T. Holmes

      HEY GUYS>>>>>how about the MERRYMINT on the island by the old bridge where abbey’s sits today……MUSIC, BANDS, DRUGS AND HEAVY CONNECTIONS….LOL

  6. Lynne

    The Office Lounge is still on 12th Street behind the Federal building, same exact building, it’s currently the Wheeling Moose Lodge

    • Anonymous

      Oh this is making me mad!!! First who wrote this a ten year old? First the eagle two was the greatest bar of all time and I should know because I bartended at most of the bars in wheeling and the cork and bottle was the second greatest! the office lounge where I worked for three years was located on 12th street up from the cork where I believe the moose is now was a great bar known for its office scenes covering an entire wall was popular spot for media employees from channel 7 including one who went on to having her own talk show…it was a popular after hours spot. Sad to hear no mention of Tin Pan Alley , the elbow room, the next door or Howard johnsons the under glass and of course ernies esquire! Geez really

      • Brown

        I played all those guys never heard of the office lounge… missed it…tin pan…brown and eddie…wheeling mall of entertainment…cork ernie used to be cool…cops used to come in at five to have a joe…then theres the flamingo…took nittygritty dirt band there after jamboree. Tanya tucker to usef to leabe thay placr sun coming up birdies singing. Hehaw

      • Dewbug

        the Office Lounge-lol-I bartended there too. Great music -Brett Cain,Humble Sacrifice–CRAyZee good times.

  7. John B.

    How about on the Island, Mac’s Holiday, Mr. Z Club, Sahara Club. What was the lounge inside the motel next to the Wheeling Subspension Bridge. Back in the 60’s & 70’s it was easy to his a dozen different locations a night.

  8. Keith Dawson

    The office was on 12th street next to the post office?? And almost directly across the street from the greyhound. In the early to mid 90’s i would go in there and call my GF and tell her “I’m gonna be late, I’m at the office” it took her serveral weeks to realize i did not work in an office

  9. Sharon S. Naples FL

    The Hilltop was still popular in the 50 & 60’s. There were quite a few places in those years that had music. I remember the Diamond Lounge for the jazz on Monday nights after the stores closed at 9:00. Along with the Little Club and a small lounge upstairs over Zellers Steak House. I think some of the music was provided by Wheeling High School’s band director as he directed a small group that played at various places and functions. As the old saying goes – Those Were The Good Old Days in Wheeling.

    • Dave "Bruce" Bartens

      When I was in my 3rd year at Central High School I was using a faked ID that said I was 18. Using the ID I play guitar in a 5 piece band in a cellar club in abasement next to Dave Banoff’s Store on Market Street. I don’t remember the name of the lounge but it was always packed with people. The year was I believe was 1958-59 it was my first job playing music. We recorded a LP album at Bill Black’s studio located in the Court Theater building, i still have the album. Does anyone remember the name of this lounge?

  10. Sue

    Okay, let’s go back even further. During the mid 70’s the “Electric Flag” out Wheeling Creek. They were only open on Saturday night and had the best bands in the Valley, Everyone would meet at “Moxies” on Washington Ave, next door to Mac’s. Then head out the creek.

    • Jim Simpson

      Sue, I’m glad you mentioned these two. I moved away in 1980, so the 70’s is the era I remember. Kind of a dive but there was the Southside Inn (South Wheeling) that had the Beer-ador beer frig, very cool!

    • Anonymous

      I did the Moxie/Electric Flag Saturday night adventure. Very exciting.
      The bands were fantastic and it was the drug scene for sure (although I didn’t do them).

    • Sutton

      Thank you for those memories; I had forgot the names of those two places. Discovered this internet site after recently thinking of a bar in Patterson, Elm Grove, called Porters. My Dad took me there, and to Knotty Pines, when I was a boy in the 60’s, in the cold months, after a day of ‘hunting’. I’d have a pop and a slim Jim or beef jerky and my Dad would cave beer and a picked egg or pig’s foot. I used to feel such comfort in those bars; the peanuts and snacks, the dim lighting and warmth. I used to enjoy looking at Porter’s extensive collection of Jim Beam bottles running up top along the length of the bar. And I don’t know if anybody has yet mentioned the Alpha. Thank you again.

  11. Terry

    Im surprised nobody mentioned The Oddessy Lounge sit on 16th St. where the college park is, I was a bouncer there when I was 17. Fun times

      • Ron Hickman

        The oddesy was the place in the 70s hands down. Downtown whg had so many bars in walking distance.
        The island had over 20 bars in the 70 s. I grew up there. Never had to leave or drive. It was Great.

  12. Ralph S

    What about Tom’s on Edgington Lane where the bowling alley is now? Absolutely the cleanest place in town! The girls from St. Joseph’s Academy used to do their homework there. Great place 50-60 yrs ago.

  13. Jay D

    “a 2:00 am breakfast at the Pancake house downtown or Mary’s Kitchen by the Market House.”

    Tom, I’m pretty sure it was “Terry’s” Kitchen.

    Man oh man, all the gals posting their memories of the old Wheeling bars.
    I remember every one of YOU! LOL!

  14. Tom

    The Office Lounge , Cork and Bottle , McClure Hotel ( Kings Court) , Tin Alan Alley. Fort Henry Billards all had Down Town Wheeling hopping every night, add a “Suffering Bastard “from The Peking Gardens and the dancers at Hazels and you were ready for a 2:00 am breakfast at the Pancake house downtown or Mary’s Kitchen by the Market House. Hoowa …..And then catch the final show at the Palace. Where have all the flowers gone !!!!!!!

  15. Bill Koegler

    “Pap” Cain moved his business form the Bank building and “retooled” the “Hunting and Fishing Club”. The Villa was where we ( The WLU Rowdies) hung out and studied for tests…albeit over a pitcher or two and a cheese plate. However, the most memorable was the “live” TV broadcast of the Vietnam Draft Lottery in early 1970, as we had all just become eligible and our college deferments were over…yes, we actually graduated.. Lots of pitchers, no crying, my number was 62, we were told that anything under 120 was a sure ticket to “NAM”, there were 10 of us, 7 had numbers under 120, and we all joined the US Army reserves in Bellaire the next day…. our friend who had a number in the 300’s had “flat feet” and poor eye site and wold have been rejected anyway, but, as the highest number…he had the privilege of “Buying” all night..

  16. Jay D

    A friend and myself were out on dates with our girlfriends. We had dinner at the Peking Garden on 12th St. then went over for drinks across the street to the Cork & Bottle. That place used to have “Turtle Races” for whatever reason. When our girls walked in with their Chinese leftovers in those little white cartoons the Cork & Bottle patrons noticed that and accused us of bringing in our own turtle “ringers” to win the races. Too funny.

  17. Jay D

    The Club Villa in Warwood moved from below the bank to another basement location a few blocks north. You entered down a secluded and dimly lit, long, narrow hallway then down carpeted steps to the door with a buzzer. A dark, cozy, friendly, uncrowded neighborhood pub. Great place for a quiet date fueled with a large or small pitcher(s). It was originally owned by retired county and city official Hal Kain who ran it with a cordial but strict discipline. Ownership later changed to local sports writer Cliff McWilliams. It started getting more popular and it’s decline quickly came when the West Liberty crowd descended on it and it became a raucous mess.
    The Woodsdale Eagle Inn II was THE place in the mid-late 70’s. Many wonderful divorces started out in that place.

  18. Debby Koegler

    OK, lets go “Way Back”, Club Villa in Warwood under the Bank, Jolly Roger… same location as the Hilltop, Pittsburgh Bands in the early 70’s, Hunting and Fishing Club, another basement Club in Warwood.

  19. Jill N.

    About ten yrs ago I was working at the cork & bottle & that place needs lots and lots of work & of it’s still owned by “scandlous pandlous” then I’m sure it’s way over priced. It’s filthy … And not obvious stuff from being closed but w/ damage, mold, roaches ,& rats . I used to look around an think how sad Bc it still has the original booths, atmosphere, style, unique ceiling fans, multiple kitchens & the multiple floors that overlook each other still make the place seem like it should be re done but sadly I think it’s lost any hope it had.

    • Jim Simpson

      Ernie has passed away. One would think the Cork & Bottle would be sold from his estate, taxes owed? His 29th St. steakhouse sold at auction. I believe the windmill at the top of Wheeling hill may be part of his estate as well.

  20. Sandy

    The Office Lounge was across from the McLure. They used to have killer live music. That was a great bar triangle, McLure, Office, Ernie’s. There used to be another one down in South Wheeling, PeePeks. They used to have quarter draft beer nights, where you could bring ANY size mug you wanted and they’d fill it up for a quarter. I’m not sure how I’m alive after being there but wow, we used to have a good time. I think the building is occupied by a non-bar business now. Oh, and the Knotty Pines is still open, but it is now CJ’s Irish Pub. But one that is closed was going up the hill between south Wheeling and Bethlehem, the Silver Rail. It was a total dive…that’s really all I remember about it. And you totally forgot the Eagle, which was the place to go dancing and drinking back in the day. It’s that Chinese buffet now. There was also one over on the street across from Riesbeck’s, but I can’t remember the name of it, so we must have had fun there! And what about the one going out National Road that had the giant plastic beer bottles outside? They had the greatest BBQ sandwiches. OMG but I had way too much fun in the 80s and 90s, can you tell?

  21. Debbie

    Tropicana and Lou’s Voo Doo I thought would have made the list. However they were on the island. I remember Ernies Cork And bottle had vintage looking phones on each table. Every table had a and you could call (like a intercom) each table if you were to shy to walk up and talk or ask for a dance.

    • Sherry

      A group of us had a great time at Lou’s Voo-Doo on Wheeling Island. It was always packed – Wall To Wall with people.

    • Sherry

      My friends and I went to Lou’s Voo Doo most of the time. We made many friends there. David Mercer stopped in a couple of times. He had just passed his boards. He is now Dr. Mercer at Wheeling Hospital.

  22. Tessa

    I don’t think Capt. Ed’s sucked…
    Also, the Office Lounge was Across from the McClure it is now the Moose club..
    This article has a few other facts wrong.

  23. Sharon Marshall RN

    The Office lounge was right across the street from the McClure hotel lounge and the 2formed a triangle with the cork and bottle. In the late 1970’s we used to travel from one to the other, depending on the night of the week and who had shown up there…Great memories…

    • Anonymous

      I believe The Downunder on Main Street was short lived also but was super fun drinking and playing beach volleyball in the sand .

  24. Mark

    Chips out by Reisbecks, The Green House on Kruger Street, The Cardinal Inn, Washington Ave and the legendary Tiki Hut in Woodsdale.

  25. Karen Corona Merritt

    What a trip down memory lane. We all used to go to Mac’s Club after work at the Pizza Inn. Those were really great days. I also loved Ernie’s Cork and Bottle. Lots of memories made there. Also, The Pirates Cove was great fun. And the Eagle on National Road.

  26. Mary

    Office Lounge was on the corner of the alley on 12th Street, on the Elbys side of the street. We used to go the for lunch all the time, for their chef salad. It was very narrow.

  27. Paula

    The bar in Clator was the Whistle Stop. The train tracks were right there where the walking trail is now. Don’t forget Peach’s on River Road, Club 17 & A&R Club in Warwood, The Bloody Bucket on Short Creek, and Silver Rail.

  28. Anonymous

    How about Pepix’s(not sure of spelling) and the Metro. Pepix’s was in South Wheeling on the corner before that playground awesome dance floor that lite up. Many good times their. And the Metro was in now vacant lot across from Riesbecks which also was a good dance club. It was small but fun. Both of these places was in the 80’s. Wish Wheeling would be like it used to be so our kids would have something to look forward to.

  29. Rick

    Don’t forget Harvey’s 1818 where on Thursday you could get a draft with any size glass for a $1.00. As for as the place to go in the early ’80’s was the Eagle II hands-down.

    • Dan K

      Oh my – Harvey’s mug night. People would get pretty creative – There was a good story about West Lib Chemistry students bringing in multi liter flasks.

  30. JR

    Nice post. But you can’t add any other song when discussing Macs other than “Paradise By the Dashboard Light”. Wonderful, wonderful….

  31. Anonymous

    Back in the early 90’s I worked at Ernies Cork & Bottle….it was always kinda dead when it came to business. Am shocked The Eagle wasn’t listed here.

  32. Lisa Marie

    Nice trip down memory lane. What was the name of the bar (early 90’s) that was out by where Riesbecks and Tractor Supply is now?

    • Nannette

      I frequented Tin Pan Alley! It had a great and fun dance floor upstairs. I made a lot of friends there. And I went by myself!

  33. Michelle Bennington

    I was in a band that played at Captain Ed’s when they had a really bad boating accident on the river. You haven’t lived until the police come in to look over the sides of the barge to see if a missing body is floating close by.

  34. Matt

    There was a bar that was situated kinda near the Krogers in Elm Grove. Once inside the entire bar was a scene from space. The walls, dance floor , ceiling was painted with neon colors. With disco lights and neon lights combined with all the alcohol I drank. It made for a good time. Does anybody remember it’s name?

  35. Rebecca

    The Eagle was THE place in the early 80s. People who worked at other bars went there to dance. In the late 70s, #9 on the list was called The Whistlestop…any high school kid could get in that place.

  36. Kim

    For several years I was the main DJ at The original Glassworks Lounge in Oglebay’s Wilson a Lodge and then at Eagle II —- my vantage point provided a one of a kind view!!

  37. Barb

    Does no one remember Lou’s Voo Doo Club (downstairs) with the flashing lighted panels in the elevated dance floor and the waterfall wall? Lou had live bands back in the 1970’s. It was the place to be Wednesday through Sunday
    The bar is still on the Island.

    • Bob Dorris

      In the mid 70’s I had just returned from a trip to Florida where Disco had taken over the Clubs all over the state.

      I approached Jim Coyne, the owner and told him what I had seen. He took me to the second floor of Tin Pan Ally and said maybe we could fix this up into a Disco. I said yes it could. About a month later he opened The Attic Disco. It was a big success.

      With in the next year three ore Disco clubs opened in Wheeling.

  38. Jo Lynne Nugent

    Before Jaybo’s it was the Rendezvous.
    The Office Lounge was on the north side of 12th street, in a hole in the wall between Chapline & Market (or was it between Eoff & Chapline?). It served great beef & Cheese hoagies. For a time in the early 90’s they staged poetry readings upstairs, which later were moved to the upstairs of the Cork & Bottle.

    • Feliz Navidad

      Thanks for remembering the poetry readings, called “The Empty Step”. They were held once a month upstairs at the Cork and Bottle about the time of the first war with Iraq. They usually had a poet read original works, then had an open mike. It went strong for about two years. It moved because the room was getting crowded with so many patrons! Alas, the move to a new venue killed the readings.

  39. dr dng

    Cork & Bottle… Best disco bar of the ‘ 70’s.
    Was a unique setting. If Wheeling rebounds
    it has potential.

    The Eagle Inn’s has to be in the top 10.
    It was the place to be for many years.

    Going back to the ’60’s the Hilltop was
    the place (Rt 88 & Peters Run)
    Made a short return about 5 years ago
    and disappeared again. Why?

    • Crystal W.

      I worked at Graceland when I was a freshman in college. I remember Bill and Joann vividly. He was quite the schmoozer. The bands on Fridays always had the place hopping and the booze was always flowing, so the tips were great, especially for a college student. I visited once more around 2000, and it must have been right before they closed. The food was still greasy and rhe music was still pumping, but it was an almost comical scene.

      The Eagle, where AC Buffet now sits, was loud, great for dancing and even better if you were underage because I know our group was never carded and I am pretty sure I never once bought my own drink there. They would just show up in front of me, all sweet and delicious, usually paid for by some middle aged man hoping to score. We always went in groups so we wouldn’t make a stupid mistake of actually going home drunk with someone.

      Hawk’s, in south Wheeling, was one of the best if you wanted to hang with your bestie and lay low, just getting poo faced, listening to music or just the conversation around the bar. There was never any worry about getting busted for underage drinking unless you made the stupid mistake of driving home. Your best bet was to find a nearby friend to crash with or just call an older sibling.

      Captain Ed’s was about the same atmosphere, but the only time I ever saw a lot of people there was when we brought them in ourselves. Leaving to go home was always scary because we knew we were drunk and we knew that once misstep amd they would be pulling our body from the locks in New Martinsville in a couple of days.

      Good times.
      Good times.

      • Sue

        What about Tin Pan Alley? Three floors of Music and some pretty cool bands. Acoustic on the bottom floor, Brown and Eddy, Kim and Ed and Kiddog! Middle floor was a disco and top floor Jazz. I sat at the bar with friends when Billy Joel was in town for a concert at the Capitol Music Hall during his Piano Man years. He bought us all a drink and sat and BS’ed with us for quite a while. My favorite Wheeling Bar ever. Sad to know its a ghost bar.

      • Korin

        Hawks Lounge in South Wheeling was a awesome bar!!

      • Korin

        Hawks Lounge was an awesome bar!! So many good times and wonderful people that became a second family to many! Wild nights of drinking with close friends and family, then to be able to walk a half a block up to get ur grub on with an amazing slice of pizza top with mounds extra cheese and banana peppers from the famous, one and only Tony’s Pizza!! Great memories! I would love to be able to have one last drink at Hawks Lounge and then go get a slice from Tony’s pizza!! ????

    • Kris

      The Lions Club, it was on Market Street across from the old Stone and Thomas building. That place was always packed just like the Swing Club.

    • Tim C.

      Nobody mentions Fabulous Fannies, the hotel next to the suspension bridge. I bartended there in 1979. and 1980. Small but fun place. Owned by the Boury Bros.

      • Anonymous

        What was the bar before this? Or may i ask if there was another bar located aound back downstairs in 1660s?

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