Developers of the proposed Copper Fire Bar and Eatery now hope to open their restaurant in March at 200 E. Main St. in downtown Belleville.
They had planned for an opening last spring but they are back on track with work crews buzzing around the cavernous space in the four-story brick building that dates to the late 1930s.
The contemporary American menu has not yet been released but Jeff Voyles, one of the co-owners, said he looks forward to greeting customers.
“When we open, you’ll see whether it’s entertainment, drinks, food, presentation, things like that, we’re going to think way outside the box and give this a little flair,” Voyles said. “I spent 25 years in Las Vegas. I’m going to bring a little bit of that, a little bit of St. Louis and a lot of Belleville.”
Voyles is working on the Copper Fire project with three other partners: Mark Eichholz, the owner of O’Fallon Electric; his wife, Renae Eichholz; and their son, Brett Eichholz.
“We’re really, really are passionate about Belleville and making Belleville proud of what they have here and hopefully bring thousands of people down here that will visit other businesses,” Voyles said.
“We want to consider ourselves an anchor on East Main so that other businesses are attracted to this street and the other smaller shops will fill up.”
We want to consider ourselves an anchor on East Main so that other businesses are attracted to this street and the other smaller shops will fill up.
Jeff Voyles of Copper Fire
The restaurant will feature a kitchen with three Unox ovens made in Italy.
Voyles said the ovens are not like any he’s seen at another full-service restaurant. He said they circulate heat and introduce steam into the oven.
“It retains all the juices. It cooks a little quicker,” Voyles said.
The “green” kitchen will not produce much grease, it won’t have open flames and doesn’t need massive exhaust hoods, he said. Instead of a traditional stove, the kitchen will have induction burners that use magnets to produce heat.
“It’s a unique, futuristic kitchen, if you will,” Voyles said. “It’s designed to run very efficiently.”
A private room will be built next to the kitchen and it will have an 8-foot by 4-foot window so diners can watch the chefs at work.
The executive chef, Tony Hilker, has already started working full time on the menu.
Copper Fire will initially take up the first floor and phase 2 calls for a second-floor space that will allow guests to overlook the first floor. Work on this phase will begin after the first floor opens.
The long-term plans call for meeting rooms to be built in the basement.
Voyles said the renovation budget is still growing and he didn’t disclose how much is being spent to get Copper Fire opened.
The restaurant originally was going to be called Double Barrel but that name was trademarked so it was dropped for Copper Fire.
Bob Brunkow, the historian for the Belleville Historical Society, said the site once was part of the Romeiser Co. clothing store, which was in the space where the Kaskaskia Engineering Group is located today and extended all the way to Jackson Street. In 1935, the west side of the Romeiser building at 200 E. Main St. was cleared to make way for a new Montgomery Ward store. But that business closed after a short time. In 1947, the Carroll House department store took over the space and lasted until 1973.