A final resting spot2/3/2016
For years, regular bar patron Mike Walsh would frequent the Greenwood Lounge every day. He would sit at the bar and gaze out the window at Ingersoll Avenue and wax poetic about the old trolley that used to travel back and forth along there.
Suddenly the staff at the Greenwood noticed that Walsh stopped coming in. He was missed, but no one thought too much about it until one day when Walsh’s grandson entered the establishment and told the staff his grandfather had passed away. Upon Walsh’s death, he had requested that his ashes be permanently placed in his favorite spot: Greenwood Lounge.
Mike Hines, the bartender and owner at Greenwood who is affectionately known as “Mo,” points to a little urn sitting above the bar; it’s the final resting spot of the Greenwood’s old friend, Mike Walsh.
Hines bought the bar with a partner in 1981 and then he became sole owner in ’85.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, like any other business,” he says. “We’re a neighborhood bar; we pour a good drink.”
The Greenwood is known for several classic signature decoration pieces. There are the two murals of the dogs playing poker hanging from the wall, one of which is signed by the original artist, Constance Depler. There’s an old gold chandelier hanging from the ceiling, which is another item many people find remarkable. The bar is still equipped with a rotary phone, and there’s a jukebox, too.
A lot of things have stayed the same at the old watering hole, but there have been changes, too.
“There are so many different kinds of beer; there’s a huge variety,” says Hines. “We even just got a new one today — West O Coco Stout. It’s out of Okoboji, and it tastes like root beer.”
Hines and another bartender remember a time when the beer selection was more limited.
“Bud, Miller, Pabst, Hamm’s, Schlitz — that’s about it when we started,” he says.
Hines accepts only cash, and he doesn’t have a credit card machine. But he is quick to point out that there is an ATM in the back. Their 1951 cash register is an antique, too, but it still works.
Hines is not certain how long the Greenwood has been around, though he guesses it’s been there since the mid 1930s.
“I’d say we’re one of the three oldest bars in Des Moines,” he says.
Hines says it’s the bar’s ability to adapt that has been the key to the Greenwood’s longevity. The latest
“new” development is the transition into live music.
“Darn near,” he says when asked if they have live music every night. “It’s mostly local bands.”
As for remodeling the place, Hines laughs.
“Nothing drastic,” he says. “There won’t be any rooftop bars.”
At the Greenwood, the more things change, the more they stay the same. CV
3707 Ingersoll Ave., Des Moines
Hours: Monday – Saturday 2 p.m. – 2 a.m.