WHBF – OurQuadCities.com

Steve’s Old Time Tap, 223 17th St., Rock Island, doesn’t just serve up great food, drinks and friendliness.

The longtime downtown bar is serving compassion and a good chunk of change, as it’s collected and donated about $1,300 over the past year for other Rock Island organizations that do good work.

Steve’s Old Time Tap is at 223 17th St., Rock Island (photo by Jonathan Turner).

Steve’s has put a jar on the bar with a sign asking for spare change for a Rock Island operation helping others. When they get $100 or so, they send out a check. They have sent money to NEST Café, Project NOW, two animal shelters, the Rock Island police and fire departments, and others. 

“During COVID, we were blessed enough to have never shut down,” Steve’s bartender Tammy Neeley said this week of starting a “Pay It Forward” campaign. They were closed inside for six months in 2020 but offered curbside pickup, which kept regular customers happy, she said.

Having fun at Steve’s Old Time Tap (courtesy of Steve’s Facebook page).

“We just decided because so many other small businesses didn’t make it, we’re going to try and pay it forward to other people in need,” Neeley said. “We’ve done so many.”

That didn’t take away from the business bottom line, since bartenders would donate tips and many regulars put in a dollar or a two every day, she said.

“That adds up very quickly. We felt, because we were so blessed, that was the right thing to do,” she added.

After Steve’s reopened in late 2020, business was solid and they didn’t lose any employees, Neeley said, noting they have six staff.

David Smith, a former longtime co-owner at Blue Cat Brew Pub (his wife Martha Cleaveland was co-founder of that downtown Rock Island mainstay), is a regular at Steve’s.

“Everybody just started opening up their pockets,” he said. “You put the jar down there. I pay for my coffee and this goes in the jar. The regulars are down here too. Everybody just kicks in and we choose a different place, it’s just what we do.”

NEST Cafe Quad Cities is at 1524 4th Ave., Rock Island.

They averaged giving a check about once a month, helping a dozen organizations so far. NEST Café, because it was new, they got $200. “Everybody’s been so generous,” Neeley said. “We’re gonna keep doing it.”

Steve’s is “a good townie bar,” Smith said. “You have a union plumber, sitting next to an accountant, sitting next to a City Council member. It’s a good Rock Island bar. And you have people from the hotel (Holiday Inn across the street) stopping by, too.”

“I basically open up my wallet. We all love doing it,” he said.

“It doesn’t take a lot to make somebody’s day,” said another 40-year Steve’s regular, who declined to give his name. “Tammy is a great front person for it.”