The Scene

Mott’s Lounge in Kane County celebrates 100 years of family ownership

Mott's Lounge in Burlington is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2024.

The year was 1924, during the Prohibition era in the United States. Even though consuming alcoholic beverages was illegal, that didn’t stop Flora and Albert Mott, who opened a bar in western Kane County.

Flora Mott is the original owner of Mott's Lounge in Burlington.

Mott’s Lounge, what that bar is now known as, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this summer in Burlington. Still in the family, the bar is owned by Flora and Albert’s great-grandchildren, Ted and Tamara Getzelman. To celebrate the historic milestone, the family will host a party at the bar on Saturday, July 27, which includes food trucks, plenty of drinks and a performance by the Blooze Brothers.

“[Mott’s Lounge] wasn’t the original name, [the name] changed multiple times. It was once called The Cafeteria during Prohibition,” said Robin Getzelman, daughter of the owners and accountant for the business. “It actually started in a garage in Burlington, and there were rumors that Al Capone and his men were around and helped start this. [Flora and Albert] lived next door to the bar, which is the original location, but I don’t know where the original garage is.”

Getzleman said she’s heard stories that people would come to Mott’s from the former train depot nearby and ask Flora Mott for gin or whiskey, and she would give them a secret code for the location in the cornfields behind the bar.

“If patrons were drinking and the cops came in, they’d go out the back and hide in the fields,” she said.

Flora sold the bar to Shirley and Don Getzelman, Robin’s grandparents, in 1980. Their son Ted and his wife, Tamara, Robin’s parents, became sole owners in 2014. While the building has been updated over the years, the Brunswick bar from the 1920s still remains in use today.

Shirley Getzelman at her bar, Mott's Lounge, in Burlington.

“We are a historic place,” Robin Getzelman said. “I don’t [know] many businesses that make it to 100 years, let alone 100 years with the same family who have the same passion for the business. I grew up with Mott’s Lounge. I had an admiration for the bar and what it means to be a Getzelman and be in Burlington and have pride your family has built this very special place.”

Mott’s is a staple in the community, as it has been the host of many gatherings for local nonprofit organizations for decades. The bar also has been just a local hangout for folks to enjoy a cold beer after work or celebrate a birthday.

“We’re here for the community, and we want to continue the family legacy,” Getzelman said. “It’s a place to laugh with friends, meet new people, also to share the stories and memories of people who’ve passed on, and to also create new memories.”

Mott's Lounge in Burlington still has the original 1920s bar (pictured).

The bar is well-known for its hand-pressed burgers, especially the Mott’s burger, which is Shirley Getzelman’s secret recipe. The menu changes frequently, offering a popular Friday night fish fry and other homemade dishes. And their most popular beverage? A drink called Swampwater.

“The Mott’s burger … has cheese, bacon and ham, and it comes with hand-cut fries. We make it all in-house,” Getzelman said. “We switch out our menu, we have Friday night fish fries, mini-burgers. On special occasions, we’ll do different things, like last month we had a pulled pork and meatloaf. Swampwater is my grandmother’s recipe, and it is a vodka-based drink. I tell people it kind of tastes like wine and it goes down very smooth.”

Two special new drinks will be unveiled for the birthday celebration in July. In honor of its 100 years, Mott’s will serve a $100 dirty martini, which has three kinds of olives and gold flakes, and the other is a $100 birthday cake martini, which has gold sprinkles, a gold candle and whipped cream. Both drinks come with a souvenir martini glass.

For more information about Mott’s Lounge and to see the menu, visit the Facebook page.

Aimee Barrows

Aimee Barrows

Aimee Barrows is the editor of The Scene, Shaw Local News Network's entertainment section. The Scene is your go-to destination for all things fun in Northern Illinois. Prior to The Scene, Aimee was the editor of the Kane County Chronicle for five years, and a freelance reporter for Shaw Media for four years.