Smile Politely

Huber’s has been serving up a century of local comfort and counting

Huber’s is just the prescription for the familiar, homey comforts we all need during this COVID-era. Tucked into the Eisner Park neighborhood, Huber’s has warm wood interiors, vintage lighting, cozy seating, and low-key atmosphere that evokes the nostalgia of times gone by (you know, January), when it was perfectly acceptable to gather together in public places for a couple of drinks with friends. 

It’s that place where you’re always greeted with a friendly smile and “Hey, what can I get for ya?” from the bartender. It’s the place you slip into like a cozy sock, where comfort and camaraderie come standard with a side of free popcorn — and you’re welcomed to order fries with that.

I caught up with Huber’s bartender Cassidy Price to find out more about this neighborhood standby, and what it’s like to be serving up drinks in this era of social distancing.

A picture of interviewee and bartender, Cassidy Price, behind the bar at Huber’s.  Cassidy is wearing a white sweatshirt and a blue mask.  In front of her are stacks of plastic cups.  Behind her is a large mirror surrounded by flower-shaped lights.  At the bottom of the mirror, we can see a large collection of liquor bottles. Photo by Tias Paul.

Photo by Tias Paul.

Smile Politely: Hi! Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Huber’s?

Cassidy Price: Hi, I am Cassidy. I have worked at Huber’s for 3 years as a bartender.

SP: What is your favorite part of bartending at Huber’s?

Price: I love my job at Huber’s. I work for great people, and I have great coworkers. I felt lucky to land the job because the majority of my coworkers have worked here for decades.

SP: This place has some history in its walls. Can you tell us a little about it? When did Huber’s open its doors?

Price: Huber’s has been open since 1918. It is one of the oldest bars in Champaign. Two years ago, we celebrated our 100-year anniversary.

A picture of two Huber’s patrons wearing masks, each holding up a drink.  They are sitting at a wooden table close to the bar area.  Behind them, we see the main entrance to the store, looking out onto Church St. Photo by Tias Paul.

Photo by Tias Paul.

SP: It’s a unique location for a bar, tucked into a residential neighborhood. Does this keep the customer base very local?

Price: The customer base is very local for the most part. They live in the neighborhood and continue to show up on a regular basis, but we also have customers who like to make the trip to Huber’s because of the community feel. It is a friendly and welcoming place.

SP: What is it about Huber’s, do you think, that keeps people coming back?

Price: I think people keep coming back to Huber’s because they make connections here, and it is consistent: it has not changed much over the years. You know when you come into Huber’s, what you can expect.

SP: If I remember correctly, you have some delicious bar snacks, particularly of the fried variety. What are some of your most popular ones? Are you still serving these during COVID?

Price: A lot of people really enjoy our potstickers, and our fried shrimp is really good. We are still serving our appetizers during COVID.

An order of the 1/3lb cheeseburger from the Huber’s menu. The burger is served in a small paper tray with packets of ketchup and mustard on the side.  Below the tray, we see the metal top of a patio table. Photo by Tias Paul.

Photo by Tias Paul.

SP: Any recommendations for tried and true food + drink combinations at Huber’s?

Price: When you come to Huber’s, I recommend starting with some popcorn and one of our local draft beers we rotate on tap. A tried and true meal would be a cheeseburger and fries. Due to COVID, we do not have lettuce, tomato, onion, or pickle. We have packets of condiments that we do provide, though. We always make the burgers well done.

SP: How do you stay in touch with your customers? Do you run any specials our readers should know about?

Price: We keep in contact with our customers through our Facebook page for the most part. We do not run any specials because we have very good prices every day.

A wood-framed black chalkboard sign listing the local draft beers that are available on tap.  A yellow and white “Leinenkugel’s†sign is directly below the chalkboard.  To the right, we can see a mirror reflection of a masked patron sitting at the bar with a plastic cup of beer. Photo by Tias Paul.

Photo by Tias Paul.

SP: Where do you go when you want a drink in Champaign-Urbana?

Price:  If I want a drink in Champaign-Urbana, I like to go to Triptych. They are a local brewery and have great beer. My favorite is the Dirty Hippy.

SP: We’ve heard some good music coming out of this place, even during COVID. Do you have a music night/day, or are these special events?

Price: We have bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Recently, the bands have been playing outside from 6 to 9 p.m. due to COVID. If any changes about the band are made, it can be found on our Facebook page.

SP: COVID adaptations: how is your establishment different than before COVID?

Price: Due to COVID, we have had to make special accommodations. We added outdoor seating. Our parking lot is smaller, but parking is available on the street as well as across the street in the Hays Center parking lot. We no longer have the dart boards up, and we had to get rid of our barstools. Our seating follows the social distancing rules put into place.

SP: If COVID-19 was a bar cocktail, what would it look like? Taste like?

Price: If COVID-19 was a bar cocktail, I think It would be something very strong that you’d have to sip on. It probably would not taste very good. This year has been a little bitter and slow.

SP: How can C-U support you right now?

Price: We want everyone to feel welcome to come in, and wear your masks!

Thank you, Cassidy!

A paper menu of food offerings and their prices, including pizza, sandwiches, and appetizers.  Kitchen hours are listed in red at the top right hand corner of the menu. Photo by Tias Paul.

Photo by Tias Paul.

Huber’s West End Store
1312 W Church St
M-Sa 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Su noon – 11 p.m.

Top image by Tias Paul.

Related Articles