Mike ’n Molly’s turns 10

For a town with so much local talent, establishments with live music quickly become an integral part of the community. For 10 years, Mike ’n Molly’s has been one such place, providing an outlet for local musicians while still staying a successful bar.
Located on North Market Street in downtown Champaign, the bar is celebrating its 10th anniversary Thursday, Dec. 18 with bar frequenters Terminus Victor and Scurvine, as well as Columbus Ohio’s Lollipop Factory. buzz talked to owner Mike Murphy about the people, the bands and the building repairs that have made his bar an integral part of the Champaign scene.
Murphy’s bar was named after him and his younger sister, who does not own the bar with him. Growing up, people always referred to the siblings as a unit: “Mike ’n Molly.” It seemed good enough then and better in fluorescent lights. And so, Mike ’n Molly’s got its name.
Since those early years, Murphy has always been a part of the bar scene. He got his feet wet working at Gully’s on campus before his family sold the bar in 1992.
“I learned the business that way. I’ve always been kind of a night owl, and I think I keep a fairly decent temper, so it kind of just worked out that way,” Murphy said.
The people who frequent the bar describe Mike ’n Molly’s as rustic and homey, going as far to describe the establishment as reminiscent of a 1982 sitcom where everybody knew your name.
“It’s a comfortable atmosphere; the bartenders have been around for a long time, so people know them. There’s just an overall coziness to the place that draws people in,” Murphy said.
While Mike ’n Molly’s is celebrating its 10th anniversary, the building will be celebrating its 200th birthday, giving the bar that worn-in, naturally dingy look that some other places curiously work hard to copy.
What sets it apart from other Champaign bars, however, is the music. In the summer, Mike ’n Molly’s hosts shows in their beer garden, but during the colder months, bands perform upstairs in an open area where people not only come to watch but become part of the shows themselves. With no stage or platform to divide the band from the audience, Murphy points out that “there are not a lot of places where you can get as close to a band as you do here.”
Hundreds of local musicians have performed at Mike ’n Molly’s, and Murphy prides himself on the wide range of talent that he books.
“There have been more than a couple times that we’ve had bands here and a month or two later see them on Letterman or Conan O’Brien,” Murphy said.
When asked about plans for the next 10 years, Murphy looked around at the old building, mentioned the upcoming repairs he needed to make and looked at the men sitting at his bar.
“Just keep on keeping on,” Murphy responded with a smile.
For a bar that has been so successful for the past 10 years, that’s about all it needs to do.
Come visit the bar on its birthday at 9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18 with Scurvine, Terminus Victor and Lollipop Factory.

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