Bailey takes new path in life

Karen Danner
Pair of jacks: Ted Bailey, left, visits with regulars Jack Moore and Jack Walters during the lunch hour Monday at Bailey's Pub. Bailey is selling his business to Tim and Shelly Burger of Pekin. Bailey's last day is Monday. In the background is Harriett Moore.

As the 2008 Beijing Olympics spectacular opened a new chapter in artistry and pageantry, Ted Bailey and his new wife, Marty, embarked on a new journey together on 8/8/08.

Bailey married the former Marty Leininger of Morton on her birthday and continued a friendship that began 35 years ago.

Adding more new challenges, when the ink dries on the paperwork Sept. 12, Bailey also will hand over his successful business to a Pekin couple, ending a 12-year history of Bailey’s Pub in Chillicothe.

Bailey beginnings

A native Chicagoan, Bailey graduated from Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields and trekked to Bradley University in 1967 to attend college and play fullback on the BU football team.

Plans changed, however, and in 1969, he headed to Illinois Central College as assistant manager of the cafeteria there, a position he held until 1970.

His next job title was with the Peoria Police Department, starting as a patrol officer, then a detective and finally the police community relations director.

After leaving the department in 1971, Bailey tried sales and marketing for Pillsbury for eight years, a job which required much travel and several moves.

“I came back to the Peoria area because I didn’t want to move so much,” said Bailey, who had already moved three times in five years, with many more anticipated moves.

“That’s why I left Pillsbury.”

His next business venture directed him to The Woodcutter, which he co-owned with partner Randy Domenighini.

“The Woodcutter was part of Randy’s dad’s trust fund,” said Bailey. “We ran it and formed a partnership and also ran King’s restaurant together for about seven years.”

When Domenighini bought out Bailey’s interest in both restaurants, Bailey took a job with Brewer’s Distributing in Peoria for two years, “to see if I wanted to get out of the restaurant business,” he said.

Obviously, he did not.

Bailey bought out Pat and Paul Kelly about 12 years ago. The couple had operated Finnegan’s and Finnegan’s Again.

On St. Patrick’s Day 1996, Bailey’s Pub opened in downtown Chillicothe.

“I didn’t know if Chillicothe was going to be a good location,” said Bailey. “I didn’t know how I’d be accepted in the community. But I was accepted well, and we’ve had a good relationship for 12 years.”

As Bailey’s Pub’s reputation traveled throughout the community, it became a regular hangout and dining spot for many local residents.

An athlete himself, Bailey gravitated toward sports teams at Illinois Valley Central High School, hosting free meals, no matter what time of day or night, for any varsity team making a state appearance, as well as the coaches and parents.

When the Grey Ghosts baseball team captured the state title in 2006, Bailey stayed open until 2 a.m. to welcome the team back to its hometown.

Bailey also worked with benefits in town, as well as Relay For Life. He was to share the food obligations at Relay this year with The Dugout, but a tragic fire at The Dugout just prior to Relay caused Bailey to take on all the food himself.

Probably his earmark event, however, is the annual Labor Day breakfast for Chillicothe’s all-volunteers ambulance squad — Rescue 33.

After this year’s Sept. 1 breakfast, Bailey will, reluctantly but also happily, move on to a new segment of his life.

In his stead will be Tim and Shelly Burger of Pekin, who reside at the Chilli Recreation Area during the summers. The couple has owned three restaurants previously.

“They have experience, so that’s good,” said Bailey. “I hope the city will accept them like they accepted me.”

Bailey said the Burgers plan to rename the restaurant, dropping the Irish bar image.

“It will still be a pub, but just not an Irish pub,” said Bailey.

The couple plans to refurbish the inside, installing new flooring, paint, fix-ups and a general freshening.

Bailey also noted the Burgers have shown interest in the annual Rescue 33 breakfast.

“They’re really excited and want to try to work with Rescue 33 like I have,” said Bailey.

Life goes on

As a student at Sangamon State University in 1973, Bailey met Marty. About 26 years ago, he ran into her at the grocery store when she was pregnant with her twin girls.

Time marched on, and about a year ago, Marty, who works at the Federal Courthouse in Peoria as a clerk for Judge Billy Jo McDade, was talking with one of the guards, who had, coincidentally, worked with Bailey on the Peoria Police Department.

Upon mentioning Bailey’s name, Marty learned he still lived in the area.

Taking two weeks of to finally bolster her courage, Marty called Bailey and the two met for dinner as friends.

“I just wanted to see her and see how she’d changed and how I’d changed,” said Bailey. “We went out a couple of times and decided, ‘Hey, we kind of enjoy this.’”

It was then that Bailey, age 60, realized his life would change soon.

“I wasn’t planning on being married again,” said Bailey. “We’re good friends more than anything, We were friends in college, too.”

In the last 30 days, Bailey’s whirlwind life spun as he sold his house, sold his investment in the Subway building in Chillicothe and took on a new bride.

“It’s been a busy 30 days,” said Bailey. “Now we’ve got the breakfast to finish out. I’m exhausted mentally and physically drained. But I’ve made my decision, and I’ll just move on.”

Bailey has two daughters — Shelly Bailey in Rome and Kris Garcia, who lives in Terra Haute, Ind.

With his marriage, he added two step-daughters: 25-year-old twins, Betsy and Jennie, who both live in Tazewell County. He also has three grandchildren.

His time working 95-100 hours each week, on the job seven days and six nights, will end soon.

In 12 years, Bailey said he had taken off only two days.

“I’m just tired,” he said. “Now it’s time. The doctors said I have to slow down. It’s time to let my body slow down and recover.”

Bailey is still healthy after a bout with cancer in 2005.

“Chemotherapy is really hard on your body when you’re working 100 hours a week.”

Slowing down for Bailey means doing some work around his new home, but the workaholic does not plan to retire just yet.

“I’ll eventually look for a job,” said Bailey. “I love to work. I’d go nuts staying at home. My wife still works. I just don’t want to own my own business anymore.”

After such a close relationship with Chillicothe and its residents, Bailey will be missed by his community and will miss it in return.

“It’s really been nice,” said Bailey. “We get to start our own lives together, which I’m excited about.

“I want to thank everyone for the support they gave us and accepting me into the community. I look forward to seeing them all in the future at all of the Rescue 33 events.”

His last words were meant to help others.

“Please come to the Labor Day breakfast.”