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.
Picture courtesy of Belleville News-Democrat