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BLOOMINGTON — A couple of times a week, 91-year-old Dean Hinshaw travels in his motorized wheelchair to check on the progress of the new Parkview Inn under construction near his Miller Park neighborhood. 

"Every Friday I would come and get catfish dinners, and I am looking forward to it again," said Hinshaw as he sat this week watching workers finish framing the building.

He has lived in the neighborhood 68 years and was a regular at the Parkview  at the corner of South Morris Avenue and West Wood Street, across from the park.

The restaurant was a mainstay along old Route 66 since 1928, but a fire in October 2016 burned the original structure beyond repair.  

But Hinshaw won't have to wait much longer for his Friday night catfish suppers to resume.

"We're hoping to open by the end of October or the first part of November," said owner Rick McCormick.

"It's all framed. They're putting the windows in today (Wednesday). The plumbing and heating and air-conditioning are going to start going in."

"The whole east wall is all glass so you'll be able to sit inside and see the park," he said, noting the interior decor will be more rustic and feature the historic Mother Road.

"The old Route 66 went past Miller Park over to Main Street, and we're going to try to tie in more of that," said McCormick.

McCormick is looking forward to being able to serve customers like Hinshaw once again.

"They're very loyal," said McCormick about his many neighborhood patrons.

"They're blue-collar, working-class people on the west side of town who care about Miller Park, the neighborhood and everybody around them. It's like a huge, big family," he said.

McCormick plans to increase the restaurant staff of about 17 that he had at the old building to 25 to 30 in the new building.

The restaurant will feature the same "comfort food" it always did — fried chicken, catfish, pizza and hamburgers, said McCormick.

"We're going to do breakfast, lunch and dinners like we always did," he said. "So it's going to be the same menu, the same arrangement; just a newer building."

No one was injured in the 2016 fire that started in an exhaust hood during the busy dinner hour.

"I sat over there on my porch and watched the fire," said Hinshaw. "Oh, it was a humongous fire, grease fire. The flames went up in the air probably 40 or 50 feet."

McCormick said he is going to miss the old building.

"It's going to be a part of history that is never going to be there again," he said. "There was an old mural of a wilderness scene on the south wall in the dining room. A lady painted it years ago, and that's gone."

Once any kinks are worked out during a soft opening, McCormick said he plans to have a "huge grand opening, and we have some really nice prizes to give away to people, too."

He also plans to expand the Parkview Inn Getaway Club.

"Every January we would go on a trip somewhere. We're going start doing more things with it — go to baseball games, on outings, bar hopping," said  McCormick. "We're going to make it more fun. So people in the neighborhood can hop on this little bus and just go have fun."

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Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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