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COVID-19 pandemic closure pushes 106-year-old bar and grill to close its doors

The Old Palace Tavern opened in 1914, and is now saying goodbye to its customers.

EAST MOLINE, Illinois — The Old Palace Tavern won't be serving up it's most popular beer, or its classic dishes, anymore. 

"On a regular night, I served a lot of Busch Light," Bartender Aimee Crist says. 

Owner Stephanie Brandt says it's time for her to close her doors. She says the COVID-19 Pandemic put her business under. 

"Right now, I owe $10,000 and it might be $20,000 in a few more months," Brandt says. "I still have to pay that back. I just cant see that that is something I'll be able to do." 

She tried to stay open, offering carry-out services for about a month, but it wasn't enough.

"Some days it was really good, but some days it wasn't worth turning everything on," Brandt says.

And as Illinois starts to reopen, it's not happening soon enough for The Palace. 

"When Governor J.B. Pritzker made (the stay-at-home order) to the end of May, then I started thinking that I may not be able to recover from this." 

Brandt and her employees say things could be different if they were on the other side of the Mississippi river. 

"It is frustrating because we're just right across the bridge, and (Iowa businesses are) doing everything that we cannot," Crist says.

"We're stuck," Cook and Bartender Darren Townsend says. "I don't understand how some of these stores can stay open, but places like this can't. You can't tell me we have more people here than Walmart does." 

Brandt and her employees say their regular customers are what they'll all miss the most. 

"You know they're gonna be there everyday when you get to work," Crist says.

Brandt says the building's owners plan to remodel the space and reopen it is a new restaurant within the next year. She says she's sad to go, but grateful for the memories made at the Palace. 

My customers are my family," she says. "It's sad... I'll miss it, but it's just time to move on."