Legendary Springfield bar owner and storyteller dies at 71
Pat Tavine, who owned and operated several Springfield bars and restaurants, including The Lake Club, and served on the convention center board was remembered as an inveterate storyteller and a gregarious host.
Tavine, 71, passed away on Aug. 19 from an undisclosed illness.
The family is holding a private service.
"Pat Tavine was one of the great characters of Springfield," said Mike Coffey Jr., chairman of the Springfield Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority (SMEAA), which oversees the BoS Center. "He was a nice guy and a great friend of mine."
Tavine reopened The Lake Club at 2840 Fox Bridge Road, which in its heyday in the 1940s, 50s and 60s attracted top national musical acts, in 1980. Gilligans, P.T.'S Salla D-Ballo, The Spot, On Broadway and Jake and Elwood's were other establishments in Springfield Tavine was associated with after first opening Pat Tavine's, at Chatham Road and Wabash Avenue, in 1970.
Tavine was a graduate of Griffin High School (now Sacred Heart-Griffin) and attended Springfield College in Illinois. He worked for the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Tavine got into politics as a Republican committeeman in Precinct 100 and as chairman of the southern district of Springfield for the Sangamon County Republicans.
Tavine came onto SMEAA in 1980 and served as the authority's secretary. He later left to run for city council, but was reappointed to the authority in 1990 when Patrick Flannigan died.
Tavine and Allan Woodson emerged from a pack of five candidates in the Ward 10 election in 1987 for representation of the city's southwest side.
It was the first election after the city replaced a commissioner system that was ruled illegal by a federal judge under the Voting Rights Act.
During his campaign, Tavine said he would try to set up "a ward advisory committee"-- five people from each of the 13 precincts in Ward 10-- to garner input from voters.
"The city doesn't need more taxes, just better management of the way we spend the taxpayers' money," Tavine told The State Journal-Register two months before the election. "If we listen to the homeowner, the working parents and our senior citizens, we'll find practical solutions to many of our pressing problems."
Woodson, a school board negotiator, easily outdistanced Tavine in the election.
Another candidate from that 1987 election, Ann Laurence, who owned The Feed Store with her husband, Ross Richardson, for 43 years, also died earlier this month. Laurence lost the Ward 6 alderman race to John "Jack" Andrew.
Current Ward 10 Ald. Ralph Hanauer said Tavine helped land him his first job with the State of Illinois. Hanauer taught one of Tavine's daughters how to swim.
Hanauer said he was involved with Tavine's 1987 campaign.
"Pat worked it extremely hard," Hanauer recalled.
Hanauer also remembered Tavine as an avid storyteller.
"It seems like people who own bars are great storytellers," Hanauer added. "He lived life. He didn't cheat it in any way. But he was a really good person with everyone. He seemed to get along with everyone."
Sangamon County auditor Andy Goleman, who first got to know Tavine when he was a party district chairman, said Tavine was "an entrepreneurial type of guy."
"He was innovative," Goleman said. "He would buy places and fix them up and almost always succeed."
Patrons always knew, Goleman added, when they walked into one of Tavine's establishments that there wouldn't be any problems.
"He did have a code and you abided by it," Goleman said.
Tavine helped Hugo Giovagnoli reopen The Lake Club in 1980 where it mainly hosted mainly rock 'n' roll acts.
In its glory days, The Lake Club attracted acts like Guy Lombardo, Pearl Bailey, Frank Sinatra Jr. and Bob Hope, according to SangamonLink, the online encyclopedia of the Sangamon County Historical Society.
Around the time of its 1980 reopening, three Roman Catholic priests blessed the property--it was short of an exorcism--to quell "any negative spirits and to help at least one 'very restless soul' to find peace," according to Troy Taylor's account in his book, "Bloody Illinois." A former Lake Club employee shot himself in one of the back rooms of the club in 1968 and his ghost purportedly haunted the space.
After Giovagnoli, who was long tied to The Lake Club, died in 1988, Tavine closed down the bar. Tavine later operated The Lake Club II on Toronto Road with Steve Morrison.
Morrison was the owner of the original Lake Club property when it burned in 1992. Morrison, who had acquired the building from Giovagnoli's estate, had designs on then reopening the club.
"He was definitely a legend in the bar business," said Coffey of Tavine. "He had a lot of friends. I knew his dad (Mike Tavine) very well. It's sad that he's passed on."
Pat Tavine is survived by two daughters, Leah Stutler and Jill Tavine; a brother, Mike, and two grandsons, Mason and Jackson.
Contact Steven Spearie: 217-622-1788, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/@StevenSpearie.