BLOOMINGTON — Two cousins are planning to open a new restaurant later this month in the former Country Kitchen in Bloomington.

Ben Bekiri and Max Salihi are anticipating approval of a liquor license for Cousins Restaurant, 921 Maple Hill Road, at the Feb. 8 Bloomington City Council meeting, and plan to open the following week, Bekiri said. A specific date has not yet been set.

“We’ve been doing a lot of remodeling and work on the building,” Bekiri said. “There hasn’t been anything in there for 10 years, but we are very excited as to how it turned out.”

The Country Kitchen closed in 2005 after nine years in business.

Cousins Restaurant will serve burgers, pasta, steaks, seafood, sandwiches and salads, Bekiri said. Prices were still being set, but Bekiri said it would be a “medium-priced” restaurant.

Both men own restaurants north of Bloomington-Normal. Bekiri owns the Rose Garden in Streator and Salihi owns the Sunfield Restaurant in Ottawa.

“We wanted to go into business together someplace and really liked the building and the location,” Bekiri said. “It is near an interstate and several hotels in an area that has really grown over the past few years.”

In all, the remodeling project cost about $200,000, he said. The bar area will have several television sets and some video games.

“We started from scratch with the building, but built a bar, brought in new kitchen equipment and tables and are very happy with the way it turned out.”

Bekiri said they are now hiring a staff.

“We plan to have 20 to 30 people and are in the process of going through the applications, now,” he said.

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

​Follow Kevin Barlow on Twitter: @pg_barlow.


Staff Writer for The Pantagraph.

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