Tag - belleville

Shuttered Belleville Restaurant Is Back on the Market

Shuttered Belleville Restaurant Is Back on the Market – Fishers

Fischers Price Tag Is $940K

Belleville, IL/April 28, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – Some restaurants are local favorites.  Some become venerated icons of their communities.  And a few achieve legendary status, so much so that it’s hard to imagine the landscape without them.  In St. Louis, we might think of Ted Drews on Chippewa, or Charlie Gitto’s on the Hill.  In Belleville, that was Fischer’s Restaurant at 2100 West Main Street.  Nearly everyone in the Belleville area has memories associated with the restaurant and special events venue that began as a humble ice cream shop more than 80 years ago.  From weddings to campaign rallies, everything happened at Fischer’s.  It’s hard to let go of that kind of history.

Fischer’s had always been a family business that began when Ardel and Inez Fischer opened an ice cream shop (at Third and Main Streets) in 1935.  In the early 1940s, the family bought restaurant on West Main Street, operating it as a malt shop under the name The Dutch Girl.  It was renamed Fisher’s when they added the Jubilee Room (a wedding reception venue) in the 1950’s.  Over the years, more additions were made, creating space for everything from a radio station (WIBV) to a miniature golf course.  During that era, the restaurant was a fine dining establishment at that time known for its extensive American menu and first class cocktail lounge.  Back then there was an adjacent hotel (now Lindenwood University student housing.)

Although the menu changed over the years, from malt shop fare to fine dining, and eventually casual full-service with famous fried chicken, it was always a gathering place for special events in Belleville.  Ronald and Nancy Reagan held a presidential campaign fundraiser at Fishers on March 9, 1976.  Ken Fischer, a private pilot, went on to become the Reagans’ pilot during the campaign for the White House.  Nancy Reagan even recalled him in her book My Turn, even thanking him “for all the soft landings.”  But then celebrities were nothing new at Fischer’s.  Like most great restaurants, they’d had their share of famous visitors like Milton Berle and Phil Donahue.  In 1979, tennis great and Belleville native, Jimmy Connors and wife Patti McGuire Connors celebrated their marriage at Fischer’s.

The restaurant closed February 15, 2017, about a year after its longtime proprietor Kenny Fischer (son of Ardel and Inez) passed away at the age of 84.  He had run the restaurant his parents started for decades, even bringing two of his daughters into the business.  Fischer’s daughters Annette Allan and Kathy Bingheim kept it going for a while before putting it up for auction in March 2017.  They reportedly received a solitary bid by telephone.  The unnamed bidder had offered $800,000, but the deal fell through after the sisters were unable to work out a deal with the bidder.

The sisters are now working with Shiloh-based BarberMurphy Group to sell the restaurant.  According to the realtor, the current building (circa 1970) is nearly 32,000 square feet on a three acre lot.  The asking price is $940,000. That’s the price for this piece of Belleville history.

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Picture courtesy of Belleville News-Democrat

Belleville Businesswoman to Open New Bar in Vacant Pitchers Pub

Belleville Businesswoman to Open New Bar in Vacant Pitchers Pub

The Luna Lounge Gets Go Ahead in Downtown Belleville

Belleville, IL/April 08, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) — One downtown Belleville restaurant/bar closed late last year, and another is set to take its place.  The Luna Lounge will open later this month at 104 West Main Street, the site left vacant when Pitchers Sports Pub & Pizzeria closed late last year.  The project is the first in the hospitality industry for Belleville businesswoman Kareemah Lampley.  She’s owned and operated the Leaps & Bounds Learning Center at 155 Lincoln Place Court in the west end of Belleville for the last 11 years.  She plans to continue to operate the day care, along with her new restaurant and bar.

The way was cleared on Monday, when the Belleville City Council unanimously approved a liquor license application for the Luna Lounge.  She had already won approval from Belleville’s Zoning Board of Appeals for a new sign and to create an outdoor dining space.  She says the building itself is in great shape, and won’t need much work inside.

Like Pitchers, Lampley plans to serve both food and drink in her new establishment.  But the Luna Lounge won’t be a pizzeria.  Instead, the menu will be broader, including seafood, along with daily specials.  There will be fish on Fridays and soul food on Sunday.  Lampley told the Belleville News Democrat that she hopes to create a comfortable place for people to meet for happy hour and after work.

Pitchers Sports Pub & Pizzeria closed at the end of November, 2016. Owners Lloyd Cueto and John Costello had run the bar as a side business for nearly five years.  Cueto, an attorney, told the Belleville News Democrat that he and Costello, who works in real estate, needed to focus more time on their regular careers and their families.

Lampley plans to open the Luna Lounge on April 15th.  The new restaurant and bar in Belleville is not affiliated with the Bevo area bar and grill of the same name.

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Picture courtesy of Belleville News-Democrat

Belleville Craft Brewery to Celebrate New Facility

Belleville Craft Brewery, Belleville, IL

Grand Opening of 4204 Main Street Brewing Co.’s New Digs

Belleville, IL/March 13, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) — Belleville’s favorite little craft brewery is about to get a whole lot bigger.  4204 Main Street Brewing Company at 4204 West Main Street has announced the grand opening of their new, larger brewery, canning plant, and tasting room about 1.5 miles up the road from their original location.  The new facility at 6435 West Main Street will also include banquet hall seating for more than 500 and a catering kitchen.  The grand opening of the new bar and banquet hall will showcase the $3 million renovation of an abandoned store.  It will also showcase their newest draft beer, a Vienna lager.  The public is invited to have a look, and a taste at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, March 25th.

Back in August 2016 we told you about brewery owners Todd and Julia Kennedy’s plans to open a new canning facility and tasting room in the old Mad Pricer grocery store on West Main Street in Belleville.  The Kennedys signed an agreement with developer Adam Hill at that time.  Hill had purchased the run down shopping center and secured $2.49 million in tax incentives from the Belleville City Council to help pay for renovations.  The Belleville News-Democrat reports that Kennedy and his developers don’t expect to use all of the tax incentive once the project is finished.

Once complete, the new facility will expand 4204’s brewing capacity by more than 1600-percent.  Currently, they make about 4,000 barrels of beer each year.  That will jump to about 65,000 barrels starting next month.  The original brew house at 4204 West Main Street will remain operational, and the restaurant with the great patio will stay open.  Their Alton restaurant at 180 E Center Dr will also remain open.  The original 4204 West Main brewhouse will become the laboratory for new brews.  The plan is to try new things out at the original restaurant, and see how people like them.  New beers that become popular at the restaurant will likely become available by can at other sales venues.

Why the drive to put high quality craft beer in a can?  The marketing opportunities are obvious: get your beer into more sales outlets (other restaurants, bars and stores), and sell more beer.  4204 brews are currently available in dozens of locations in Missouri and Illinois.  Beer makers and distributors like canned beer because cans are lighter and cheaper to ship than bottles.  They’re also 100-percent light proof which protects the beer’s flavor (especially important for very hoppy beers, like 4204’s 2 Hop India Pale Ale), and they seal airtight, also ensuring freshness.  Cans chill faster than bottles and they’re 100-percent recyclable.  That sustainability factor is valued by beer makers and consumers alike.

That same philosophy of sustainability permeates the craft beer industry, and it’s behind the Kennedys’ choice to renovate an existing building rather than constructing an entirely new space.  Craft brewers in St. Louis and elsewhere have made it a practice to convert abandoned buildings like the old Mad Pricer store in Belleville into breweries and brewpubs.  Todd Kennedy has said that’s part of the ideology behind craft brewing.

If you can’t make Main Street Brewing Co.’s grand opening, you can still get a look at the new facility at the 5th Annual Belleville Ale Fest on Saturday, April 22.  They’re hosting it this year at the new 6435 West Main facility.  The new digs provide ample space inside and outside, so the festival will go on rain or shine.  As in other years, there will be a selection of 4204’s products to sample, as well as beers from around the country, and those of other local craft breweries, along with live music and food vendors.  Because it will be at the brand new facilities, this year’s guests will be able to watch the beer brewing in progress.

Contact information:

Original Main Street Brewing Company
Owners: Todd and Julia Kennedy
4204 W Main Street
Belleville, IL 62226
Phone: (618) 416-7261

And

Main Street Brewing Company
180 E Center Dr.
Alton, IL 62002
Phone: (618) 465-7260

Soon:

Main Street Brewing Company
Canning Facility, Bar and Banquet Hall
6435 West Main Street
Belleville, IL 62226

Balance Coffee & Tea Is Brewing New Life into Old Belleville Depot

Balance Coffee & Tea, Belleville, IL

Belleville’s Newest Cuppa Is Balance Coffee & Tea

Belleville, IL/March 1, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – There’s something new brewing at the old Belleville train depot.  A brand new a coffee roastery and café opened February 20th in the historic building.  Balance Coffee & Tea at 732 South Illinois Street is filling a culinary void left downtown after St. Louis Bread Co. and Junction Coffee closed last year.  Balance founder Marshall Morris grew up in Belleville and Columbia, Illinois before going to work in the railroad industry.  His work eventually took him to America’s unofficial coffee capital, Seattle, Washington.  That’s where Morris, after 15 years, got out of the railroad industry and learned the coffee trade.  So when he decided to head home and open a coffee roastery and café, the old train depot in Belleville seemed a natural fit.  The now beautifully restored building dates back to 1927, when it served the Green Diamond Line for Illinois Central Railroad—the same company that gave Morris his first railroad job.

Morris learned his new trade inside a Seattle coffee house that operated a number of cafés and it’s own roastery.  That gave him the chance to learn the coffee making business from bean to cup.  He quickly moved up from barista to coffee educator—the in-house expert charged with training staff, and educating customers.  While in Seattle, Morris founded his roasting business, Balance Coffee & Tea, and began selling his small batch, artisan beans online.  In Belleville he’s blending and roasted beans right in the back of the shop.  To call him an artisan, small batch coffee roaster, is not understating it.  His Mill City 1K coffee roaster does 2.2 lbs. of beans at a time.  That’s a maximum output of about 13 lbs. an hour.

Balance Coffee & Tea owner Marshall Morris spoke with the Belleville News Democrat about opening his new coffee shop and roastery at 732 South Illinois Street in Belleville.

Those house-roasted beans are excellent for many brewing methods such as a Chemex, pour over, AeroPress, French press, and even a drip coffee machine.   Just let them know which, and they’ll grind appropriately.   Their fresh roasts are sold in coffee caches—80g packages of their beans, pre-ground for ease of use.  You can have them delivered (via US Postal Service), or pick them up right in the shop.  And of course, the coffee and espresso drinks sold in the shop are made with those same beans.  They’re also commercial cold brew nitro coffee and tea suppliers.

Some of the most popular offerings at Balance include their Belleville Blend, which is made with a blend of three beans, and the Average Joe, a double blend that is their darkest roast.  These are coffees everyone can appreciate.  Balance also offers single-origin coffees that rotate with regional coffee growing seasons.  At various times, customers will find coffees sourced from Honduras, Ethiopia, and Columbia.  Another coffee treat Morris believes customers will crave, especially as it gets warmer, is the cold brewed nitro coffee.  For those who’ve never tried one, it’s cold coffee on tap that’s been infused with tiny nitrogen bubbles, giving the coffee a foamy texture, like beer.  Nitro coffee lovers say it’s creamier and richer than regular iced coffee, and slightly sweeter than your average cold brew too.  Morris makes it himself, and even provides it to commercial customers for resale.

Besides coffee, customers will find a nice selection of their tea blends, including a mint green tea, a spiced chai tea, and black mango tea.  There are plans to further develop their tea offerings as the business progresses.  Café customers will soon find a full line of pastries too—from another new(ish) metro-east business, Lizzy Bob’s Bakery in Fairview Heights; and quiche from the baker at Our Coffee House Cafe in Columbia.

Balance Coffee & Tea is open 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday – Sunday.  After March 7th, artist and yoga instructor Nicole Shanks’ will hold Yoga & Coffee at Balance Coffee & Tea.  Each Tuesday from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., $15 will get you an early morning yoga class and coffee from the cafe!

Morris says he a lot of factors came together to lead him back to Belleville.  It was a chance to come home, a chance to bring an incredible coffee experience to his home town, and a chance to help nurture the culinary and artisan community here.  Cafe customers will notices the works of local artists on display (with more to come).  Morris says future plans include offering coffee tastings at the cafe and live music on Fridays.  Eventually he wants to develop a roasting plant and nitro brewery in Columbia.  For now, he’s focused on making the best coffee he can for a metro east community thirsty for a great cuppa.

Contact information:

Balance Coffee & Tea
Owner: Marshall Morris
732 South Illinois Street
Belleville, IL 62220
Email: [email protected]

Grappa Growlers Is a Belleville Gem

Grappa Growlers, Belleville, IL

It’s Part Bar, Part Winery, Part Liquor Store, All Fun – Grappa Growlers

Belleville, IL/January 30, 2017 (STLRestaurant.News) – It’s a bar!  It’s a winery!  It’s a restaurant!  It’s a liquor store!  It’s Grappa Growlers!  This distinctive little shop at 1501 North Belt West in Belleville is a little bit of all of the above, and then some.  Kelly Whitney and Jodi Meravy opened their unique business in December 2011, and they’ve been growing loyal customers ever since.  Their customers call this place a local gem, and they aren’t kidding.  Where else can you go for a beer (or wine) and snacks with friends, catch the game on TV, and do a little gift shopping?

Grappa Growlers, Belleville, IL

Grappa Growlers, Belleville, IL

Grappa Growlers does serve some food, but it’s not the main draw.  That would be the craft beers and amazing selection of wines.  They always have eight artisan, import, or craft beers on tap.  As of this writing the list include: Bell’s Hop Slam (10%), Santa’s Little Helper Imperial Stout (10.5%), Half Acre Lead Feather Black Ale (6%), Abita Bourbon St. Chocolate Stout (10.5%), Founders Azacca IPA (7.0%), Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat (5.5%), Abita Mardi Gras Bock (6.5%), and Great Lakes Conway Irish Lager (6.5%), but keep in mind that they rotate regularly.  One of the qualities that set Grappa Growlers apart from a “regular bar” is that you can sample the beer before you make your selection.  Then you can enjoy that beer at one of the tables or sip while you shop.  This is a great place to split a bottle of wine with friends too.

This hybrid establishment is a destination for a fun, relaxing evening.  The decor is stylish without being pretentious.  The vibe is upscale, but comfortable.  And the staff is extremely friendly and helpful.  They are also exceptionally knowledgeable about the products they sell.  With about 500 bottled wines, plus dozens of beers, bourbons and other hard to find liquors, that’s saying something!

If you are looking for a special or rare beer, wine, or spirit the staff at Grappa Growlers is happy to help you find it.  They’ll do all the research and determine the availability and price of your request, then contact you with the information.  They also do gift baskets that can be delivered locally or shipped out of town for you.

Customers say they especially enjoy sampling the craft beers, or sharing a bottle of wine (along with a meat & cheese plate) among friends.  In addition to the food and drink available daily, Grappa Growlers offers monthly beer and wine tastings, plus they host special food nights.  For instance, this Saturday, Jan. 28, they’ll be offering Gyros & Fries from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. During warmer months they also have special food truck nights.  It’s a terrific way to spend an evening on their patio.  And they even have live music from time to time.

St. Louis favorite Molly Rittenhouse in a performance last year at Grappa Growlers alongside guitarist Andy Vieluf.

The next beer tasting at Grappa Growlers will be Wednesday, Feb. 1 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  On Thursday, Feb. 9 they’ll feature Northern California’s Chacewater Wines from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Check their website for a complete listing of upcoming events.  Grappa Growlers is open Tuesday – Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Thursday – Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 7:00 p.m.

As if all that wine tasting, beer tapping, and hanging out wasn’t enough, Grappa Growlers can also be the place for your unique event or a party.  They offer private wine tasting parties for individuals as well as corporate events.  They also have space available to host showers, birthday parties or whatever you’re celebrating.  Grappa Growlers may seem like a nice beer and wine shop on the surface, but they’ve become a go-to destination in Belleville for a good time with friends.

Contact Information:

Grappa Growlers

Owner: Kelly Whitney & Jodi Meravy

1501 North Belt West

Belleville, Illinois

Phone: (618) 234-9463

CRAFTING A NEW STRATEGY – 4202 MAIN STREET BREWING CO.

4202 MAIN STREET BREWING CO.

The 4202 Main Street Brewing Co. to Expand

BELLEVILLE, IL: (STLRestaurant.News) The 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., which is considered Belleville’s innovator in the craft brewery business, is moving forward with plans to expand.  Brewery Owner, Todd Kennedy, who opened the brewery at 4204 Main Street in 2014, has decided to open a canning facility and tasting room in the old Mad Pricer grocery store.

Developer, Adam Hill, is purchasing the Market Place Shopping Center at 6401 W. Main Street, where the grocery store sits.  The two men have agreed to terms for the site and their attorneys are finalizing the lease agreement.  Hill has received tax incentives worth up to $2.49 million from the City Council to help pay for renovations of the aging shopping center.  Kennedy believes this particular space will bring a new component and be a big plus for Belleville’s west end.

His vision includes an outdoor activity space behind the brewery.  The renovation is expected to begin in August and the new brewery should be open as early as November.  Kennedy wants to have the project completed by April, which would be just in time for the 4th Annual Belleville Ale Fest, which 4204 Main Street Brewing Co., is hosting.  Earlier this year, the brewery opened a beer garden behind the restaurant at 4204 W. Main St. that features a bar, fire pit, and a perfect spot for live entertainment.