'The Hole' forces restaurant, bar owner to close up shop

June 24, 2013 

Ronnie Phillips temporarily closed his Belleville restaurant and bar last month to deal with his downtown Belleville property that has come to be known as "the hole."

Phillips closed Plum Local at 1011 W. Main St. as he has been order to clean up his property at 201 E. Main St., where a fire destroyed a building in May 2010. The building was later demolished and left a gaping hole and littered asbestos at the corner of East Main and Jackson streets. The corner has been roped off and sat idle as weeds have grown during the last three years while Phillips and the city have argued about who should clean it up.

Last month, a St. Clair County Circuit Judge gave Phillips 30 days to remove the asbestos.

Plum Local is marked by a bright, multi-colored store front, where inside customers enjoyed live music and a menu that includes appetizers, salads, pizza, tenderloin, bruschetta and an assortment of beverages. Phillips said he does not know when he will be able to reopen the business. Stay tuned.

The second locale for the Peel Wood Fired Pizza is still months away from opening. Ownership from the Edwardsville restaurant that specializes in wood-fired oven-baked pizzas says much renovation needs to be completed before they can open at 104 S. Cherry St. in O'Fallon. It could be eight to 10 months before the new pizzeria opens for business. In the meantime, you can find them at 921 S Arbor Vitae in Edwardsville or call 659-8561.

Becky Kern Dance Studio moved to The Arcades in Belleville. The long-time dance studio recently relocated across town from 2346 Mascoutah Ave. to the commercial building at 6500 W. Main St. The phone number is 397-6110.

Big Daddy's 618 is the latest metro-east venue to roll out video gambling. The eatery and pub at 313 E. Main St. unveiled the gaming machines to customers last Tuesday afternoon. You can call them at 257-0315.

Keil-Forness Comfort Systems in Belleville merged with a Fenton, Mo.-based heating and cooling company. The 114-year-old Belleville business joined Weis Comfort Systems. Dave Forness, fifth-generation owner of Keil-Fornesss, said he has known his new business partner Dan Weis for the past 25 years and decided to make the move to accommodate his expanding business. Both companies are Lennox dealers, and Forness said all employees were retained. The business continues to operate under the Keil-Forness name at 301 N. Illinois St. in Belleville. Call 233-3039 to find out more.

Kennedi Auto Sales plans to relocate its Fairview Heights used car lot down the road to the southwest corner of Union Hill and Lincoln Trail by August. The lot has operated down the road at 1067 Lincoln Trail. The new lot is where a branch of Associated Bank once was. Kennedi also has lots in Belleville, Collinsville, Cahokia and Freeburg.

Friday will be the last day of business for Commerce Bank in Swansea. The branch at 4101 N. Illinois St. is closing, but until then you can call the bank at 222-7780.

And finally, don't be fooled by a sign advertising for a new spatula mega-store in one of the store windows along downtown Belleville's East Main Street.

The sign at 215 E. Main St. says "Coming soon ... Spatula City."

But there will be no spatula retailer coming to Belleville. It's a local merchant's sense of humor and his homage to a 1989 "Weird" Al Yankovic movie. (See UHF.)

"We'll have 1,200 different kinds of spatulas ...," building owner John Bigalke said, initially.

Actually, the future of the space is "still up in the air," Bigalke said, no longer joking.

Bigalke, who is also the proprietor of Beatnik's, a screen print T-shirt shop at 115 E. Main St., operated a bar known as The Ground Floor in the now-vacant space at 215 E. Main St., where he regularly hosted live entertainment. He closed the business for a while, but reopened it last year before closing it for good last fall.

"I got the needing-to-have-a-bar thing out of my system," he said.

So if not a bar, then what's "coming soon"?

"There are a few possibilities," he said. "I don't have anything solid now. I'm still investigating."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 239-2526.

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