BLOOMINGTON — A Hawaiian fast-casual concept restaurant and an onsite coffee roaster are scheduled to open this fall on Bloomington’s east side.
Ground was broken Tuesday for Pokeworks and Redbud City Coffee Roasters at 1101 Airport Road. It is expected to open in early to mid-October.
Pokeworks is part of a national chain featuring poke bowls, poke burritos and poke salads. There are currently no locations in Illinois, although there had been locations in Chicago.
Redbud City Coffee Roasters has been operating in the Springfield area providing service and distribution to other coffee shops, restaurants and grocery stores, but this will be its first retail location, said Jason Dunn, a Bloomington optometrist who is part of a six-member investment group.
“Bloomington-Normal has a great restaurant scene but is seems to always get something second,” he said. “A lot of our group like sushi,” and Pokeworks seemed like a good fit for the community.
Dunn noted that Airport Road and Illinois 9 are highly traveled but there is no coffeehouse in the area. Redbud City will have a drive-through window in addition to inside seating and the coffee will be roasted on site.
The two businesses will be in the same building with a common dining area, said Dunn.
Although Pokeworks is a franchise chain, pairing it with a coffee shop was the investment group’s idea, said Dunn.
“We also plan to have a lot of outside activities” such as volleyball, he said. “But we don’t have to do that right out of the box.”
With the coronavirus pandemic causing restaurants and others to face restrictions, the project could have been put on hold, Dunn said, “but the outpouring of people supporting local businesses” provided encouragement to go forward.
In addition to Dunn, the investors are Joseph DiMichele, Kraig Garber and Matt Caslow, all of Bloomington, as well as Ron Hayward and Mitchell Davidson from Springfield.
The Caboose, a historic Bloomington eatery at 608 W. Seminary St., closed without fanfare in February 2012. The restaurant, with several owners and names including Chuck's Caboose and Barney's Caboose, had been a west-side fixture for more than 60 years.
Delgado's, a popular Mexican restaurant at 201 Landmark Drive, Normal, closed in May 2005 after after 24 years in business. It is now the location of Los Potrillos.
The former Central Station restaurant in downtown Bloomington, once a firehouse in days gone by, is now home to Epiphany Farms Restaurant and Anju Above.
Chevys Fresh Mex
Chevys Fresh Mex, 704 S. Eldorado Road, Bloomington, closed in 2011 after being open nearly nine years. The site has also been home to several other restaurants, including a House of Hunan, Shakey's Pizza and Butterfields.
After 33 years in the heart of Normal, Golden West closed in 2002, after the owners received a surprise offer for the site and decided it was time to sell. The building, 712 S, Kingsley St., was later resold to Tartan Realty and demolished in 2003.
After eight years at 407 N. Hershey Road, Bloomington, Ming's closed in 2012. The eatery was facing foreclosure at the time.
Diamond Dave's, a mainstay at the former College Hills Mall for 21 years, closed its doors in June 2004 in tandem with the gutting of the mall to create what is now the Shoppes at College Hills.
Jerry's Grille opened in 1999 in Bloomington's Brandtville shopping center, taking over the spot used by another eatery, Henry Wellington. It closed it 2005 and then became Goodfellas, which also closed.
Arnie's was a popular Twin City eatery for 25 years. Located at the Bloomington airport terminal, it closed in 2003, shortly after the Central Illinois Regional Airport moved to its current location about a mile east. A subsequent restaurant, Arnie's Etc., was open for about a year in the former terminal building, until it closed in 2005.
Australian-themed Ned Kelly's Steakhouse opened in May 1992 in what was the former location of Bob Knapp's in the Brandtville Center (now known as Morrissey Crossing). It closed in August 2007 after the company's four Central Illinois locations were unable to compete with bigger chains.
Damon's - The Place for Ribs opened in 1995 at 1701 Fort Jesse Road, Normal. The eatery closed in 2006 after business had declined; the site is now a CVS pharmacy.
Shannon's Federal Café
Shannon's Federal Cafe, 105 W. Front St., opened in 1997 after its owners took over the historic Federal Cafe in downtown Bloomington, which closed two years earlier. Shannon's closed in 2004 because the owners also ran Shannon's Five Star Restaurant, and the demands of both businesses were too much.
Chicago Style Pizzeria
Chicago Style Pizzeria, 1500 E. Empire St., Bloomington, closed in 2015 after 22 years in business when owners Abe and Ruth Taha (Abe is pictured above) decided to retire.
Mr. Quick Drive-In
The Mr. Quick restaurant at Clinton and Washington streets had its grand opening in January 1966, with burgers starting at 15 cents and coffee for a dime a cup. The restaurant closed in 2001 and the city of Bloomington later bought the site and razed the building so it could widen the intersection.
The historic Grand Hotel, 1201 E. Emerson St., Bloomington, once served as a winter training quarters for a number of circus acts and was converted into a restaurant in 1937. The property was foreclosed upon by Pontiac National Bank in 2001, sold in 2002 and demolished a few months later.
Zorbas, popular for serving Greek food, gyros and breakfast, closed in 2015 after its location at 603 Dale St., Normal, was sold to a developer. The eatery first opened in 1983 around the corner at 707 S. Main St.
Lox, Stock & Bagel
Lox, Stock & Bagel closed in May 2004 after 22 years at Normal's College Hills Mall, in tandem with the mall's conversion to the Shoppes at College Hills.
Bennigan's, which billed itself as an "Irish American Grill & Tavern" closed its Normal location in July 2008 after the chain filed for bankruptcy. The eatery, 115 S. Veterans Parkway, was replaced by Wild Berries, which was later closed and razed. Owner Tartan Realty Group of Chicago now plans to build a four-unit development at the site.
Lancaster's Fine Dining, 513 N. Main St., a downtown Bloomington mainstay for nearly 16 years, closed its doors in August 2014. A struggling economy and the upscale restaurant's location in a neighborhood of bars were factors.
Gil's Country Inn
Gil’s Country Inn, a longtime, family-owned restaurant in Minier, closed in 2013 after the economy took its toll. The restaurant was particularly known for its fried chicken.
Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota
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