Keith Schell and Mary Dahm-Schell have completed a major renovation of the restaurant and sports bar in The Edge entertainment complex. It now has 14-foot-ceilings, tiered dining sections, multicolored LED lights and 30 TV screens.
The biggest screen, which measures 15 feet diagonally, is flanked by four 75-inch screens, creating a giant video wall behind a horseshoe-shaped bar that seats 24 people.
“What a great place,” said customer Dave Wagner, retired St. Clair County Housing Authority executive director. “It’s absolutely the best set-up for a bar/restaurant in the Belleville area. The changes that they made are just stunning.
“It was great before, but now they’ve blown if off the charts. The first time I walked in to watch a football game, I thought I was walking into the Mirage (Race and) Sports Book on the strip in Las Vegas.”
When I was working for Senator Dixon, we used to call our happy hours ‘vespers.’ That means an evening hour of worship or fellowship.
Wagner usually orders the 5 Alarm Burger, topped with ghost pepper cheese, beer-battered jalapenos and chipotle sauce ($9.50 with one side). But it’s “not for the faint of heart,” he warns.
D.S. Vespers also serves other burgers and sandwiches, as well as hoagies, pasta, pizza and desserts. A long list of appetizers includes Jumbo Wings made from Keith’s own recipe ($7 for one pound; $13 for two).
“We actually bake the wings ahead of time,” he said. “It keeps the moisture in. And then we flash-fry them and season them with a dry (paprika) rub, and we have six sauces to go with them.”
Specialty pizzas range from Barbecue Chicken to Philly Beef to the Bianco, which has garlic butter instead of tomato sauce, topped with sausage, portabella mushrooms, baby Swiss and mozzarella cheeses and fresh basil ($11 for 12-inch; $17 for 16-inch).
Mary is a Belleville native, and Keith grew up in San Diego, Calif. They met in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s, when Mary was working for the late U.S. Sen. Alan Dixon. Keith served as national sales manager for a Fortune 500 computer company.
The couple returned to Belleville after Dixon lost his 1992 primary election. They opened the first D.S. Vespers on West Main Street in 1995. “D.S.” stands for Dahm and Schell.
“When I was working for Senator Dixon, we used to call our happy hours ‘vespers,’” Mary said. “That means an evening hour of worship or fellowship.”
The Schells later acquired a building on South Belt West and started the entertainment complex with a 26,000-square-foot laser-tag center called Laser Rock.
Since that time, they have completed nine renovations or expansions, moving the restaurant from West Main to South Belt West and building five theater screens, two video arcades and 12 party rooms, totaling 45,000 square feet.
(The Schells have) always been ahead of the curve. They’ve always been forward thinkers.
Customer David McEvilly
“We appeal to the young and old and everyone in between,” Mary said.
Another expansion is underway, adding 35,000 square feet for an indoor electric go-kart track, bumper cars, two 4-D motion theaters, eight bowling lanes, a banquet room and more arcade space. It’s expected to be completed this summer.
D.S. Vespers mostly broadcasts hockey, baseball, football, basketball and other games on its TV screens, but it was a hotspot for people watching election returns on Nov. 8. No doubt the Super Bowl will pack the place.
“(The Schells have) always been ahead of the curve,” said longtime customer David McEvilly, 59, of Belleville, a pit boss for the Casino Queen. “They’ve always been forward thinkers.”
At a glance
- What: D.S. Vespers restaurant and sports bar
- Where: The Edge entertainment complex, 701 S. Belt West in Belleville
- Hours: 11 a.m. to midnight Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays
- Seating: 156
- Handicap-accessible: Yes
- Carryouts: Yes
- Party rooms: 12 (in complex)
- Information: Call 618-236-2101 or visit www.edge618.com
On the menu
- Buffalo Chicken Dip — Cream cheese, shredded chicken, ranch dressing and Frank’s hot sauce melted together and served with housemade tortilla chips, $8
- Edge Burger — Burger with Cheddar cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, a beer-battered onion ring and Sweet Baby Ray’s or housemade spicy barbecue sauce ($9.50 with one side)
- Alamo Wrap — Fire-braised chicken with pepper jack cheese, black beans and corn, roasted red peppers, lettuce and housemade chipotle mayo, served in a grilled wrap ($8.50 with one side)
- Cajun Pasta — Black tiger shrimp, grilled chicken, andouille sausage, red and green peppers and onions and housemade creamy Cajun sauce on shell pasta ($16 with a side salad)
- Meat Lovers Pizza — Ground beef, bacon, sausage, pepperoni, ham, mozzarella, fresh basil and housemade traditional red sauce ($13 for 12-inch; $19 for 16-inch)