Illinois lawmakers congratulate Winston on retirement


Winston Mezo hands a bagel to a customer on Nov. 4, 2016, as he stands behind his kart in the parking lot of Pinch Penny Liquors. (Anna Spoerre | @annaspoerre)

By Luke Nozicka

The Illinois House of Representatives on Thursday introduced a resolution to congratulate Winston Mezo, Carbondale’s legendary bagel man, on his “distinguished career” and retirement.

The resolution, sponsored by four SIU graduates in the legislature and one local representative, calls Mezo’s retirement a major loss to the region.

“Illinois is a better place as a result of his service,” the representatives said in the resolution.


For 34 years, Mezo has stood above a charcoal grill in the parking lot of Pinch Penny Liquors, selling bagels covered in anything from onions, cucumbers and bacon bits to sunflower seeds, raisins, apples and cinnamon to bar-goers until as early as 3 a.m. He then packs up his supplies and heads to Walmart to restock.

Mezo, better known as the Bagel Man, has been a local legend since 1983.

The 75-year-old man from Herrin took up the business as a distraction from drinking alcohol. He now works with a local 12-Step program, a group that helps members achieve sobriety.

Mezo has been sober for 35 years and has been making bagels for just as long.

In a recent interview, Mezo said he will terribly miss interacting with SIU students who make their way to his cart.

“You’re not going to believe this when I tell you, but interacting with those kids is a big part of my life,” said Mezo, who never had kids of his own. “They’re hardworking, industrious. They tell me about school, what their majors are. … Not in my living experience have I known kids like that.”

The resolution, introduced a day after the Daily Egyptian reported Mezo’s plans for retirement, said tens of thousands of students and community members “have sated late night hunger pangs with a stop by the rolling charcoal grill known as Winston’s.”


“It is universally agreed that things just will not be the same without Winston Mezo standing behind his cart,” the resolution stated.

Weather permitting, Mezo will fire up his grill one last time from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday in front of the Pinch Penny liquors.

Staff writer Luke Nozicka can be reached at 618-536-3325, [email protected]or on Twitter @lukenozicka.

To stay up to date with all your SIU news, follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.