"Wow" is a common reaction when people walk in the door of Silver Creek Saloon in Belleville.
The restaurant, bar and music venue covers 7,000 square feet with an open floor plan, high ceilings and a contemporary, urban feel, despite its location in a farm field.
Inside, there are three bars, a dining area with regular and high-top tables, a private party room, large stage, dance floor and nine flat-screen TVs.
"Plus we have a large TV projector screen that we pull down for big sporting events," said General Manager Mikaela Mueller, 32, of Belleville.
Owners plan to build a pavilion and fourth bar this spring on the 3,000-square-foot patio, which overlooks two sand-volleyball courts.
The restaurant serves appetizers, salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and daily specials, ranging from Rib Eye Steak to Beef Risotto, Thai Glazed Salmon to Fried Cod.
On a recent weeknight, LindaLee Hodges sat with friends who meet at Silver Creek once a week. Sometimes, the group swells to 20 people, so they push four or five tables together.
"(The waiters) take care of us here," said LindaLee, 59, of O'Fallon, a retired nurse. "The food is good. The specials are interesting. We can talk, and the prices are reasonable."
Tom Foster was sitting across the room at a horseshoe-shaped bar, drinking a beer after work.
He's partial to the restaurant's burgers and jumbo wings, which come with a choice of buffalo, garlic Parmesan, teriyaki, honey barbecue, sweet Thai or chili zing sauce.
Foster, 56, of Shiloh, a mechanic for a food manufacturer, likes the fact Silver Creek isn't a "teen town."
"You can come over here in the afternoon or evening, and it's not a bunch of kids being unruly," he said. "It's a mixed crowd, all ages. People come in to have a good time. There's no trouble."
Across the bar sat Kiwan "Mr. BBQ" Guyton, 37, of Belleville, another regular who works as a St. Clair County sheriff's deputy. He recently rented the Linebacker Room for a holiday party.
Silver Creek opened in June of 2011 at the intersection of Mascoutah Avenue and Green Mount Road. The building formerly housed Caddy Shack Sports Bar & Restaurant.
The new business is owned by James "Jimbo" Sinovic, Jeff Butzinger, Ryan Loeffler and Jon Vieluf. They also own four Big Daddy's locations in Belleville, Edwardsville and Soulard and on Laclede's Landing.
Jimbo, 45, of Shiloh, sees Silver Creek as a place for metro-east residents who are tired of driving a half hour to St. Louis for food and entertainment.
"It's not fine dining, but it's better than the average bar," he said. "You can come in for a steak dinner and listen to a band. It's comfortable, relaxing ... It's just got a good vibe and energy to it."
Silver Creek hosts entertainment every week, including the Well Hungarians on Thursday nights, other bands on Friday and Saturday nights and a disc jockey on Wednesday nights.
During warm weather, sand-volleyball leagues play Sundays through Thursdays and bands perform early Sunday evenings on the patio. There's never a cover charge.
"We're family friendly, but after 9 p.m., it does turn into more of a bar atmosphere," Mikaela said. "The bands that we get range from classic rock to country to newer music. It's a little big of everything."
At a glance
What: Silver Creek Saloon & Grill
Where: 2520 Mascoutah Ave. in Belleville (at Green Mount Road intersection)
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily
Seating: 100 inside and 100 on patio, not including party room
Handicap accessible: Yes
Party room: Free
Entertainment: Well Hungarians on Thursday nights; other bands on Fridays and Saturdays; disc jockeys on Wednesdays; and live music on the patio early Sunday evenings in warm weather
Information: Call 618-416-6337 or visit www.thesilvercreeksaloon.com
On the menu
Chopped Salad -- Lettuce salad with sliced Granny Smith apples, crumbled goat cheese, candied pecans and housemade citrus vinaigrette dressing, $7.50
The Hunter -- Half-pound bison burger topped with fried egg, American cheese and bacon on a toasted bun, $8.50 with kettle chips
Creek Reuben -- Corned beef and Swiss topped with sauerkraut and thousand island dressing on marbled rye, $7.95 with kettle chips
Pasta Bolognese -- Linguine simmered in Parmesan cream sauce, topped with slow-stewed garlic, basil and tomato meat sauce, $10.95 with small salad and garlic bread
Dinner Specials -- From Thai Glazed Salmon to Beef Risotto, Rib Eye Steak to Fried Cod, $10.95 to $14.95