Karban's Knotty Pines branches out with burgers, pizzas and paninis

News-DemocratNovember 10, 2013 

— It's not hard to find this tiny burg south of Belleville, 3 miles west off Illinois 159. Once you do, you can't miss Karban's Knotty Pines.

The tavern-restaurant sits squarely at the intersection of Floraville and Buss Branch roads in this town of 43 residents. It's a tan vinyl-sided building with a big covered patio that wraps around one side and the back. There's lots of parking out front and St. Michael's Church is across the street.

The Karban family has run it for more than three decades. Current owner Jeff Karban bought it from his dad, Don, in 2009.

"It still has the knotty pine paneling," even after a serious renovation that same year, said Jeff, a union carpenter.

The interior has creamy paint on the walls and beige mottled tile on the floor. Even the wood paneling is a fairer shade than expected. The new bar sports more beige tile and light wood trim. You can park yourself at the bar, but you'll also find plenty of other places to sit, whether in front of gaming machines or tucked around a corner where a party of 10 or so can socialize with some privacy.

Along with opening an entire side for dining during the renovation -- an apartment used to be there -- came the chance to offer space for people to eat.

"We put food in here a year ago," said Jeff, 40, who does much of the cooking.

While the place gets packed with fishermen and hunters in season -- the business sponsors bass fishermen in tournaments -- it's not unusual to find regulars who stop in for pizza, a burger or even a panini sandwich.

"It's been here since I was a little girl," Sheila Villiger said of the tavern. She was manning the bar on a weekday morning. Her aunt and uncle sold the place to the Karbans back in the 1970s, she said. Originally, it may have been a gas station, given its location.

Now, people come for the food as well as a cold beer.

"The pizzas are fresh made; everything is excellent," she said.

Jeff said the Supreme and the Meatlovers are the most popular pizzas, going for $12 for a 12-inch and $18 for a 16-inch pizza. There are six other pizza choices and you can make your own, with a 12-inch cheese starting at $7.

This time of year, a loaded bowl of chili will set you back $4. Fifteen appetizers range from a pound of chicken wings (made four ways) to four pieces of Cheesy Garlic Bread with chicken, each $6. Pick five for a sampler platter and spend $14.

Half-pound burgers are $6-$7,while a rib-eye sandwich is $8. Paninis are build-your-own, and for $6 you get cheese, sauce and three items, from meat and vegetables to more cheese and sauce in a hot, grilled-press sandwich. All burger and sandwich choices come with chips.

The covered patio sports big-screen TVs (as does the bar) and plenty of seating.

Karban's Knotty Pines

Location: 4569 Buss Branch Road, Paderborn. Take Illinois 159 south to Floraville road, turn right (west) and follow to Buss.

Hours: 6 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Open holidays. Kitchen hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays and to 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Serves: Pizza, appetizers, burgers, sandwiches. Carryouts are available.

Information: 618-473-9954

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