Cigars and Stripes Hammer Hed Lounge

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A variety of spirits love the bar area.

Spirits find ways to support / help.

Spirits enjoy the lounge’s provided entertainment.

Spirits find creative ways to make their own entertainment.

The basement is very uncomfortable for the living in certain spots.

 

 

DESCRIPTION

Their sign above the bar reads Stripes BBQ for short.

On the CIGARS AND STRIPES BBQ Lounge I found their mission!

“As a neighborhood staple of the Berwyn Community for over 21 years, we strive to provide our guests with more than just another tavern experience. We feel that it is our obligation to share our passion for art, quality entertainment and great beer.”

“You’re invited to come visit us and enjoy a quality atmosphere, delicious BBQ and span time with some truly unique individuals.”

Remember Drink Responsibility. Eat Recklessly.

—RONNIE LOTTZ, Owner

The Cigars and Stripes BBQ Lounge is a two story 1920s building  that has been fortunate to have the same dedicated owner for 21 years who has maintained  and kept the quality of food, drink and entertainment up to a high level.

Wow after looking at the photos on Yelp, this lounge is very unique with a decor you don’t see every day! I would describe it as being very off-the-wall great. There are throngs of one-of-a-kind Route 66 memorabilia, nice unusual bohemian art, and boy do they decorate in seasonal themes, like Halloween. The decor is unique, only to Cigars and Stripes! SweetPea, the resident mummy helps to promote the cigars by trying one himself.

Ronn became a lounge owner with the experience and tastes of the wrestling world; a very different outlook from everyday society.  He came with a freedom to create a business that offered a lot of things to do and see, and enjoy!  He wasn’t afraid to be outside the box, and has been very successful at what he does.

While not for upper class yuppies, looking for contemporary upscale style and atmosphere, it is for down-to-earth folks with a sense of humor, who enjoy live performances, the latest hot comics, a place to play game machines, buy a good cigar, enjoy a game of bingo, see film events, play some pool, and most importantly, enjoy great beer and Barbecue food.

The lounge offers live mostly rock music of all of kinds, a big screen to watch sporting events:especially wrestling, film events, a game room filled with game machines on the second floor, a smoke shop with a large variety of cigars, a great selection of beers to go along with delicious barbecue!  There is also a pool table which I bet gets a lot of use.

The interior is well-planned and laid out, with a space for everything mentioned above. When Covid came to town, Ronn brought his BBQ outside with tents for people to eat there socially distanced, along with an outside bar station.  When all restaurants and bars closed down, it is no wonder that Ronn has had a strong take-out clientele; loyal to his Cigars and Stripes Lounge, and totally hooked on the BBQ and Beer!

 

HISTORY

The building was built around eighty years ago, sometime during the 1920s, on this prime location for an entertainment bar;on Route 66., that was the only main highway that ran to the west coast, during the time before interstate freeways.

Because of its location, this bar had a long life throughout the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s 70s, 80s. 90s; and up to the present day. The building has had the fortune of having owners who loved what they did, and put money into the structure to maintain it, even renovating it to suit the tastes of the generations who used it.

Both the folks of the Berwyn community and people from Chicago; just twenty miles away frequented this very much loved restaurant and bar.  Some of the early establishments in this building specialized in Italian food; a draw for Italians everywhere in search for good Italian cooking.

There is strong reason to believe that the establishment that existed in this building in the 1920s was on the visitation list of Al Capone and his crew, who probably offered “protection” for a slice of the profits, a common source of allowance money for the various mobster groups.

Mob business may have happened downstairs for uncooperative folks. It may have been a convenient killing room as well.

When it entered the real estate market around twenty-one years ago, entrepreneurs Ronn Vrhel and his wife had a vision on what this place could be after yet another renovation.

Their dream came true after finishing their improvements! Cigars and Stripes Hammer Hed Lounge opened for business as “The hip lounge and comedy club,” with some unique offerings to the public besides the bar and food.

Ronn and his spouse created a great place to go and relax in an informal, fun atmosphere, which offers comedic/musical entertainment in a stage area, great beer on tap and  delicious grilled food.

They also added more opportunities to have fun there. They provided a lovely tobacco shop with a variety of great cigar brands to choose from. Other fun activities included a Game Room, special events, the Beer Garden, and The Hammer Hed Wrestling Museum; as Ronn was a former wrestler.

For twenty-one years, Ronn has found ways to improve and expand what is offered here. Movie events, rock and roll, western and folk bands, great cigars on sale in his Smoke Shop,  still enticing the best of the Chicago comics to visit and perform, a game room full of interesting machines to play, and a change in food venue to the midwestern favorite; Barbecue!  To reflect this change, the new title to his establishment is Cigars and Stripes BBQ; though the lounge is still called the Hammerhed Lounge.

Plus, an added perk for patrons are the spirits who offer unique entertainment, and even help in courtship help via a positive energy! Performers are appreciated not only by the living people who come, but also by the spectral crew who love live entertainment.

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Through eighty years of history, some spirits who loved this place while alive, have decided to hang here for a variety of reasons!

Renovations of old buildings can activate  the spirits that are connected to the place.

The Majestic Cafe and Jazz Club, KS (When the new owners renovated this fixer-upper opportunity, spirits began to make themselves known to them).

Lemp Mansion, MO (Spirits were front and center from the beginning of the renovation of the Lemp Mansion).

Brumder Mansion, WI (When the basement theater was renovated and a bar added, spirits became more active in the theatre and catacombs).

Cigars and Stripes BBQ, Il ( Spirits were very excited about having their bar renovated).

When people die in  or near a structure, they may decide to stay there for several explanations.

Lucky’s Tavern, FL (A gangster was shot in the street right in front of this building).

Wabasha Street Caves, MN (Three gangsters were executed here while playing cards).

Stranahan House, FL (A small Indian child died of a heart ailment right by the front door).

Cigars and Stripes BBQ, Il (Three men died here; and there are three explanations on how they passed. Perhaps a mob soldier that Al Capone’s enforcer might have eliminated in an act of what they called “protection”; Killing someone from a rival gang who crossed the line by buying a drink in Capone’s territory?

Another man died of a heart attack just after entering the front entrance around 30 years ago.

Someone may have been executed in the basement that could’ve been a convenient place to kill people who broke mob rules).

People who have concerns about things while alive, sometimes can’t let go of the habit enough to go to the other side.

Kenmore Mansion, VA (Worries about money have kept a founding father here still going over bills; wondering where the money will come from to pay them).

Deerfield Burial Ground and River, MA (Sprit of Eunice Williams who was murdered in the river by hostile Native American is restless because she couldn’t help her family in this brutal attack and still looks for her missing children).

Brumder Mansion, Wi (The spirit of Evelyn who couldn’t help her daughter Sarah or herself while alive, did her best to help the owner in trying to work through what happened to her).

CIGARS AND STRIPES BBQ Lounge, Il (A spirit of a former owner whose efforts to help others while alive didn’t change anything, now tries her best to help the living in this beloved place).

Spirits who were owners themselves of a structure, may decide to stay and carry on what they did best, as well as helping the current owners.

Ole Saint Andrew’s Inn, Il (A spectral past owner decided to stay and continue enjoying being a host, a flirt and a lover of booze that killed him).

Ashley House Restaurant, MA (A spirit of Vincent, who ran a successful Steak House, continues to micro-manage the employees here, to be sure they are up to snuff, and has pointers for the owners as well).

Bair Bristro, WA (A spirit of a former store owner like to try to help the new owners of the Bistro located here, using the skills he had while alive).

CIGARS AND STRIPES BBQ Lounge, Il (One spirit of a former male owner uses his gift of being practical to help. His wife offers relationship counseling. A third past owner shows her concern for the owners, patrons and artists on stage).

 

MANIFESTATIONS

Since the beginning of Ronn and his wife’s ownership of this structure, this paranormal activity began to flow and was definitely noticed by owners Ronn Vrhel and his wife, their patrons and their employees.

Let’s Celebrate

While working upstairs in the game room, the couple heard noises downstairs suggesting that a big party was going on.

When investigating the noise, they found an empty downstairs; perhaps just the entities celebrating the renovation of their favorite earthly place, or perhaps just an impression of a grand party of the past.

Spirits Enjoy Comedy!

Reported in a story by Debra Solomon, in The Gazette: While performing his comedy routine on the stage in the lounge, Dave Black, who also is a paranormal investigator, had the feeling of being watched, and sensed “strange goings-on” in the paranormal department.

Some entities were catching his routine along with the living in the audience! This sparked an interest in investigating the building.

If more light is needed on stage, the spotlights which shine on the stage have a mind of their own and have turned on by themselves, as have the lights throughout the downstairs.

Encouraging Spirits

Around the time Ronn and wife were going through the hard work of renovating the building, Ronn was feeling tired of being in business.

Ronn explained in Debra Solomon’s Gazette article, “A while back I was talking about getting out of business.

It seems like some of these things really started to happen then. I get the impression that ‘they want me’ to stay, and are looking out for us in some way.”

Entertaining Male Jokesters

At least Three Male Jokesters; maybe four!

Getting their chuckles deliberately and by just going about their business:

Many customers and bartenders have reported seeing glasses falling off shelves.

The phone will lift up by itself, dropping off the hook, and  then ring anyway.

Other sources of amusement include bottles falling, and martini shakers being flipped in the air in front of people.

Martini shaker tops have also rolled down the bar by themselves, providing entertainment for people sitting there.

Helping the Living

Former Owners; Rose and Joe

Rose is an older woman and Joe was her husband partner at the Starlight Lounge.

They apparently attached themselves to the beautiful bar that was in their lounge that was brought into Cigars and Stripes.

There is a “hot spot” which is popular with couples, where Rose liked to sit  when the bar was in her lounge and talk to people.

Rose’s passion is being a match-maker, a mood soother for couples who sit in the hot spot. Positive loving vibes flow!

People who are drawn to this area and meet others have gotten married or their relationship improves.

Spirit of Joe does what he can to help; like finding lost keys for the owner.

Ronn one day couldn’t find his rather large ball of keys; something not easily lost. He looked everywhere for them without success.

A short time later, as he stood by the bar, the ball of keys suddenly flew down from nowhere, hitting the corner of the bar, with enough force to send them flying down the length of the bar where the owner grabbed them!

Spirit of Another Female Owner

As she had concerns about people while alive, she sticks around to have concerns for the people who come to this lounge, and helps as she can.

Her form has been seen at the back of the bar.

At least five customers have seen a shadowy form hovering or walking down the hallway at the rear of the bar area. Ronn explains, “People describe it as having no arms or legs – just a shape. They see it go around the corner.

PARANORMAL FINDINGS

Dave Black of Supernatural Occurrence Studies, Inc. and his investigative team did two investigations of the building. It was the second investigation over night that paranormal activities were strongly noticed all over the building. The two most pronounced hot spots were found in the basement and the bar area.

Basement:

a) Heard footsteps coming down the basement stairs.

b) Supernatural Occurrence Studies investigators found a very cold, intense spot in the basement.

Dave himself went over to check it out. “I went over there and it was so intense that my eyes started watering and I was having difficulty breathing. I had to put my hand on the stool to stay upright. We all felt it.”

Dave Black and his team from Supernatural Occurrence Studies  set up their equipment to register temperature changes, as well as camcorders, infrared cameras and tapes, in areas where paranormal activity had been reported. They returned a few hours later to evaluate the results.

Tape recordings and EVPs were most interesting. The machines picked up knocking sounds, voices whispering and talking between people.

In the basement area, EVPs were caught of howling and screaming and a distressed voice saying, “No, no you can’t!!!!

More EVPs are planned in the future on the team’s next investigation here. There were also drastic temperature changes in some of the reported haunted “hot spot” areas, about 30 degrees difference from the normal readings found in other parts of the building.

Psychic investigations have also been very enlightening.

A Spiritual Advisor, by the name of Lee Murphy, a psychic who has helped the police in their investigations and has worked with clients for many years was invited to walk around the upstairs game room, the main floor and basement. She made some observations. There are a lot of stories connected to this building.

Several areas are “charged with energy,” especially the bar area and the basement, which supports the findings of Dave Black’s group of investigators, SOS.

She had some impressions from the area at the bar where Rosie liked to sit most often. Rosie’s energy was strongly felt, a positive, helpful force which wants to help foster loving relationships – An entity who loves matchmaking! People who are drawn to this area and meet others have gotten married or their relationship improves.

She saw a male entity who had died instantly upon coming in the doorway to the place, almost 30 years ago.

Another female entity likes to stay near the rear of the establishment. It is a former owner, an older woman who liked to worry about the people in her life. She may be one of the entities interested in helping the current owner and the patrons who come here.

More study of the facts of these hauntings discovered by Supernatural Occurrence Studies, Inc. on their second investigation will bring more light to why these hauntings are happening.

 

STILL HAUNTED?

Verdict: Yes, this place is still haunted.

The two most pronounced hot spots were found in the basement and the bar area.

Spiritual Advisor, by the name of Lee Murphy, has found spirits here and described their characteristics.

Dave Black and his team from Supernatural Occurrence Studies  had personal experiences as well as caught some hard evidence to prove the existence of these spirits.

Several areas are “charged with energy,” especially the bar area and the basement, which supports the findings of Dave Black’s group of investigators, SOS.

 

LOCATION

6715 West Ogden Avenue
Berwyn, Illinois 60402
(708) 484-1043

The city of Berwyn is located about 8 miles from the Chicago metro area, about an 18 minute drive. The Cigars and Stripes Hammer Hed Lounge is on Route 66, the famed highway which runs to the West coast.

SOURCES INCLUDE

  • Information sent to us by Cigars and Stripes Hammer Hed Lounge and their Web Site.
  • Supernatural Occurrence Studies, Inc.
  • stripesbbq.com
  • yelp.com

Information sent to us by Cigars and Stripes Hammer Hed Lounge and their Web Site.
Supernatural Occurrence Studies, Inc.

 
Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr

Haunts in Illinois