BELLEVILLE — It might have been divine intervention when Frankie Haynes and Kelly Dove spotted the location for their new eatery.
"We knew the day we looked at it that this was the place," said Frankie. "We're very blessed."
He's the pastor at Covenant Worship Center in Fairview Heights. Kelly is co-owner and the church's worship leader. Along with Frankie's wife and co-pastor, Tina, and his childhood friend Jimmy Kyle, they opened Frankie D's on Jan. 4.
"We wanted to start early to get our name out there," Frankie said. The prime location is next to the Family Sportsplex on Mascoutah Avenue/Illinois 177, and already parents and players of sports teams have frequented the restaurant. Plus, they deliver.
"We've been told we'll be slammed once the (soccer) season starts," said Frankie. The fields can be seen from the side windows. "Thursday and Friday night already are busy."
The decor is simple: Neat rows of burgundy booths and tables, with room for 50 or so. The patio is bare now, except for a couple sets of risers, but there are plans for outdoors dining and a shaved ice stand.
The location had been a concession stand with a kitchen, but the three have turned it into a restaurant that serves homemade food.
Frankie, 43, of Fairview Heights, grew up in the food business.
"My family had a restaurant in Southeast Missouri when I was a kid. It was a diner," he said. "I always kind of wanted to do that, manage a restaurant."
Besides the day-to-day help of Kelly, 47, who handles the customers and the money, Frankie is paired up in the kitchen with Jimmy, 38, who attends L'Ecole Culinaire in St. Louis. The duo are former professional wrestlers who went by the tag-team name Bodily Harm. Frankie got the name "Frankie D" because his promoter at the time thought "it sounded good."
What sounds good at Frankie D's are the five burger choices (1/2- or 1/4- pound sizes). They're handmade, charbroiled beef patties, like the Hawaiian ($6.99/$8.29). It has a teriyaki glaze and is served with grilled Canadian bacon, pineapple and Cheddar cheese. The Ragin' Cajun ($5.49/$6.89) has a spicy Cajun seasoning with pepperjack cheese, jalapenos and an onion ring.
Grilled chicken and a meatball grinder are on the menu, too, for just under $8. All are served with fries or homemade ruffle-cut potato chips. Pizza, wraps, salads, toasted subs, wings and a variety of appetizers also are available. Dine-in weekday lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m are $5.99.
Frankie is particularly proud of the barbecue on the weekend menu, including ribs, pork steaks, rib tips, pulled pork, smoked turkey and beef brisket. Through Lent, they also will be serving fish.
Plates sell for $7 to $9 and include fries and a side of coleslaw or potato salad.
"We make our own rub and sauces from scratch," he said.
Their goal, said Frankie, is to appeal to a wide variety of people, but especially families. No liquor is served and it's hoped the restaurant can book area praise and worship bands to play on the patio in warmer weather.
Offers: Burgers, sandwiches, pizza, wings, salad, barbecue (on weekends). Dine-in, takeout and delivery within a 4-mile radius ($10 minimum; $2 service charge).
Location: 2346 Mascoutah Ave., Belleville, at the Family Sportsplex
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; to 5 p.m. Wednesdays; and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays. Closed Sundays.
Handicapped access: Yes