Swilligan’s continues downtown tradition

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-116784945115426.jpg’, ‘Photo by Jim Hagerty’, ‘With a menu of soups, salads, appetizers and sandwiches, Swilligan’s, 200 N. Church St., continues to be a favorite among the downtown lunch crowd. The restaurant/bar, which opens at 11 a.m. seven days a week, has four flat-screen plasma TVs and offers NFL Sunday Ticket and MLB Extra Innings.‘);

A popular Rockford tavern is under new ownership and has a new look. Swilligan’s “The Pub,” 200 N. Church St., has been a visible downtown meeting place since1927 under various ownerships and names, such as Cubby O’Brien’s and Harper’s Weekly.

Last October, new owner, Reggie Roberson, opened and has been enjoying success in the lower level of the historic Lafayette Hotel.

Manager Jenny Caiozzo, whose experience in the restaurant business spans a decade, said she feels right at home on the corner of Church and Mulberry streets. In the past 10 years, she’s had stints at Paragon On State and Sal’s Diner.

Caiozzo said: “Being downtown is exciting. I really enjoy the people.”

Despite having the word “pub” in its name, Swilligan’s is not just another watering hole—it continues to be a favorite among the downtown lunch crowd. The pub offers an extensive menu of soups, salads, appetizers and sandwiches. The kitchen also prepares carry-out and delivery orders and, as expected, the bar boasts a full beer list and an elegant selection of wines and martinis.

Customers may remember the original artwork and hockey swag that filled the walls. Although the staff still fully supports the IceHogs and their fans, it’s given the place a slight facelift, by replacing the memorabilia with a warm color scheme, creating a more soothing ambiance for comfortable dining.

Swilligan’s, however, is still a perfect place to stop during hockey outings with its walking distance proximity to the MetroCentre.

The stained glass art that once hung behind the bar has been replaced by a state-of-the-art big-screen TV, one of four new units that are visible from nearly every seat in the house. Caiozzo said the faithful Sunday football crowd has taken full advantage of the NFL Sunday Ticket, and the chance to see their favorite teams in action. The MLB Extra Innings TV package has also been a hit and will surely come in handy this spring when the 2007 Major League Baseball season gets under way.

For many years, the Swilligan’s location was a premier place to see live music. The new staff is working that tradition back in as well. The occasional live entertainment lineup has included Miles Nielsen, who has brought in his H.M.S. project and his solo act. Roberson and Caiozzo have even added an upright piano that customers have been using when not listening to the sizeable jukebox selection.

“The piano is getting a lot of use,” Caiozzo added. “We are hoping that we can find someone that can come in and play for us on a regular basis.”

And although Swilligan’s welcomes special event-related business with open arms, its focus is on adding to the ongoing entertainment value of downtown, even when the large venues like the Coronado Theatre and MetroCentre are idle.

“I think more people need to know that there’s always a lot going on downtown,” Caiozzo said. “There’s great things happening every day, not just when there’s an event.”

Swilligan’s The Pub is open at 11 a.m. seven days a week, and can be reached at 965-6414.

From the Jan. 3-9, 2007, issue

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