How does a pork belly BLT and a craft beer sound? You can find out soon when a new microbrewery, distillery and scratch kitchen opens in Collinsville.
Located at 115 E. Clay St., Old Herald Brewing Co. and Ardent Spirits, Inc., will open its doors in late December, owners Derik and Whitney Reiser confirmed Wednesday.
“It’s all coming together,” Derik Reiser said as a construction crew continued work inside of the former home of the Collinsville Herald newspaper.
The building, which will have pieces of Collinsville history sprinkled throughout, has received a $2.8 million makeover from top to bottom. About $650,000 of renovation funds came from tax increment financing. The final bill for the project has not bee tallied, but Whitney Reiser said the projection looks to be on target.
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“We’re a little overwhelmed, but we are really excited,” Whitney Reiser said. “We’ve been working on this for almost two years and I think the community is so excited for us to finally open. We just want to put out some tasty beverages and have some fun.”
A patio, event space, tasting room and lounging area will give customers space to spread out. Next year, guests will be able to take tours of the space to learn more about production on both sides.
A focal point in the room, Derik Reiser installed the distillery equipment that come from Austria.
The couple will serve gin from their distillery on opening day. They’ll also have four craft beers and food on the menu.
Executive Chef Krissana Frawley, who formerly worked for Beast Craft BBQ in Bellleville, will be in charge of the kitchen. Frawley plans to serve pork from a local farmer Chad Rensing. A pork belly BLT, burgers and beef cheeks are on the menu that will compliment the beer and craft spirits.
Torin O’Brien will serve as brew master. Eventually eight different beers will be available at the brewery. Four will be available when it opens.
When Old Herald opens, it will become just the second brewery and distillery combination in Illinois.
“It feels like the right time and the right place,” Derik Reiser said before construction began earlier this year. “We’re in the heart of the metro-east. There’s no craft brewing and distillery experience like this.”
New trampoline park coming to Fairview Heights
A new family entertainment center with trampolines and other attractions will open in Fairview Heights next spring.
A franchise of Urban Air Adventure Park is moving into a space in Fairview Heights Plaza that has been vacant since Sports Authority left four years ago.
“This will be a big traffic generator because it’s got so much going on,” said Paul Ellis, the city’s economic development director.
The city had been concerned about the economic health and well-being of the half-empty strip mall and surrounding business district on the north side of Interstate 64, west of Illinois 159.
“(The mall) has been struggling,” Ellis said. “It’s still in receivership. But I think we’ve made a lot of progress.”
Rio Grande Mexican restaurant last week in the former Applebee’s building, and work continues on a seafood restaurant down the road, although the owner has been forced to come up with a new name because of copyright issues with “Juicy Crab.”
Urban Air is based in Bedford, Texas. More than 130 locations are already operating or under construction, most in the United States, according to its website.
The nearest location is in Cottleville, Missouri, west of St. Charles.
“We take kids birthday parties to a whole new level,” the website states. “Our party reservation specialists will handle all the details from start to finish, so you can focus on enjoying your kid’s big day.”
After closing last year, this popular Edwardsville bar is coming back with a new name
Nearly a year after losing one of the most popular watering holes in Edwardsville, the bar’s former manager plans to bring it back with a new name and updated look.
Marion Gilson, better known as “Mama Marion” around town, will reopen the back half of Laurie’s Place soon. A 15-year veteran of Laurie’s Place, Gilson has renamed the watering hole The Back Bar and hopes to open at 2 p.m. Dec. 7.
“When it was Laurie’s, if were up front we would always say ‘let’s go to the back bar’,” Gilson said. “I wanted to keep it simple. I wanted to keep it home.”
The front half of the bar will become Source Juicery next year, co-owner Michelle Motley confirmed Thursday. Motely said moving into the former home of Laurie’s Place will give them more room to grow and expand.
In the rear of the building, Gilson has already moved in and updated the space. She’s painted the walls, revamped the stage and added new beer taps.
“It’s going to be a new beginning,” Gilson said. “It’s a new beginning for me. I’m just bringing home back.”
After two decades of bringing drinks and live music to Edwardsville, Laurie’s Place closed on New Year’s Day. The popular bar and gathering place, owned by Laurie Chavez, opened 21 years ago at 228 N. Main St.
At the time, Chavez declined to comment about the closure, but in a message to her Facebook followers, she said she planned to retire.
“I have met so many amazing people, made so many friends that have become like family to me,” Chavez wrote Dec 9. “To the hundreds of talented musicians that have played my venue, I say thank you.”
Gilson plans to bring live music back to the space when it reopens. A moving date for Soure Juicery is yet to be announced.
Fletcher’s Kitchen and Tap will open a second location. Here’s where and when.
After a long search for a second location, Fletcher’s Kitchen and Tap will open a new restaurant at the old Clinton Hill Golf Course in Swansea early next year.
Mike Eiskant and Derek Betz, co-owners of Fletcher’s Kitchen and Tap in Belleville, said service at their original location in west Belleville will continue.
“It’s a really unique opportunity,” Eiskant said. “We’ll have the ability to do events. It was a tight space over there. We could only get so big. This enables us to use the outdoor space, which a lot of people love.”
Eiskant and Betz will renovate the space before opening in three to four months. Both said they have searched for years before buying the former golf course building and more than acre of surrounding land.
Metro-east developer Mark Halloran owns the remaining property. He purchased the Clinton Hill Golf Course in Swansea for about $1.5 million, and wants to bring office buildings to the area.
“The economy is doing very well right now so this is a good time to do it,” Halloran said in January. “That’s an unserved location. There’s a lot of houses around it.”
Halloran also noted that he expects demand for the office buildings because “a lot of people like to have their offices close to them.”
Fletcher’s plans to welcome customers long before the first new office building goes up.
Swansea’s planning and zoning director Dallas Alley said residents in the area are already looking forward to the addition.
“We’re excited to have Fletcher’s,” Alley said. “We think this is the first step of what could be a really good redevelopment as a whole.”
Known for its hickory grill, soup and pizza, Fletcher’s opened its Belleville location at 6101 W. Main St. in 2004.
Fire damages new escape room in Belleville but the owner still hopes to open soon
Just two weeks ahead of opening day, an early morning fire recently damaged a new family attraction coming to downtown Belleville.
After more than a year of planning and remodeling the building at 102 E. Main St., owner Tyler Renner tearfully spoke about the setback Monday as crews continued to clean up the damage from the fire that broke out Nov. 24.
“Imagine being able to get an opportunity to actually do what you really love,” Renner said Monday.
He still plans to open Escape 618 soon, but after the fire it’s hard to know when customers will be able to enter.
“We have a full construction crew,” Renner said. “We’ll knock this thing out.”
Firefighters responded to Escape 618 after a fire broke out around 4 a.m. Nov. 24. The fire was quickly contained and no one was injured, Belleville Fire Chief Tom Pour said.
The cause of the fire is listed as spontaneous combustion from oily rags. In recent years, Belleville firefighters have responded to three commercial business fires and five house fires caused by the improper disposal of oily rags, Pour said.
Renner said he plans move forward with plans to open as soon as the damage is cleaned up.
His great-grandfather, Theodore Bauer, built the imposing Grant Building on East Main Street in downtown Belleville and now Renner will bring new life into the building as Escape 618.
Customers, including kids and their families, corporate groups, class field trips or couples on a date, pay to enter a themed room and then use team building skills to figure their way out within a time limit. Renner notes that customers are not “locked” in the room, they can leave at any time if they want and a “game master” will accompany and monitor the players.
Several escape room businesses are already in operation in the St. Louis metro area.
Renner hopes to have nine themed rooms in the building.
The initial phase will feature four escape rooms on the first floor. Five other escape rooms will be opened later in the basement and apartments could be built on a top floor after the escape rooms are finished. Also, the themes would be changed on a regular basis.
“With an escape room, you can benefit the community,” Renner said in a September 2017 interview. “You can bring people together. I can take kids, throw them in a room, get them off their phones and I can make them work together.”
For more information, call 618-581-5793.