It’s hard not to miss the happy glow of Tom’s Place. Sure, the hospitality of this old-school tavern is great, but we’re talking about the beaming, beautiful neon sign proudly encouraging us to Drink Blatz Beer. It’s a sign synonymous with Lemont Downtown and has been for generations, and so is the Laketa family that operates the tavern. Ask anyone that’s ever been to Lemont and there’s a good chance they’ll tell you a story about Tom’s Place!
So who’s the Tom in Tom’s Place? Tom Laketa Sr. was a much-loved Lemont resident of 50 years, known as “Big Tom” to his tavern patrons and “Uncle Tom” to the families and children he doted on with treats. Tom Laketa moved to Lemont in 1924 to settle down after working all over the county. Tom and his wife Mary operated a tavern at the corner of Stephen and Talcott before moving “Tom’s Place” to its current location at 110 Stephen Street in 1949. After the Korean War, sons Milan and Tom Jr. It continues with a Laketa at the helm with Tom’s grandson, Mark Laketa. Milan Laketa passes away in March 2020 at the wonderful age of 90.
Owners Milan, his wife Elaine, and Mark Laketa, c. 1998 from the local history, Lemont 125th Anniversary Edition, 1873 – 1998. Get your copy today and support the Lemont Area Historical Society!
Blatz has a history nearly as old as Lemont, going back to 1850 when Valetin Blatz started a brewery in Milwaukee. By the 1890s, Blatz was the 3rd largest brewery in the US, the first in Milwaukee with a bottling department, and shipping their beer nationally. It wouldn’t have been hard to find a Blatz back in the day. Today you won’t have many options outside of Tom’s!
Today Blatz is brewed by Pabst… we are equally envious of the fine Pabst LEMONT neon sign in the window!