On Lebanon’s quaint brick street, Scott Schmelzel has paved the way for old to intersect with new at Duke’s Pub.
“You know, this is such a cool old building and we wanted to do it right,” he said, looking around the interior of the bar and casual eatery on West St. Louis Street in historic downtown Lebanon. “The walls were all covered up. We tore down the wood and drywall to expose the brick.”
It was one of many renovations that have been going on since mid-March, from installing a new kitchen to building a two-tiered brick patio on the side of the building.
It’s Scott’s second venture into the bar and grill business. The 46-year-old Belleville native also owns 618 Big Daddy’s in downtown Belleville, celebrating its 10th year. With Duke’s, he partnered with Tim Keeley, of Keeley & Sons, a general contractor with offices in East St. Louis.
“The possibility of the patio is what really drew me to the place,” Scott said. “I looked here three years ago and felt the market had no real spot to eat or party. I felt that way 10 years ago when I started Big Daddy’s in Belleville.”
Duke’s is composed of three separate areas — Pub Room, Dining Room and Banquet Room — all with tall ceilings covered in tin tiles, old plank wood floors, big glass front windows and separate outside entrances.
The grand opening happened Friday and things were still shaking themselves out on Thursday. The long antique bar in the Pub Room was up and running, surrounded by wood high-top tables and chairs and big-screen TVs on the walls. Just out a side door is the brick patio, with wrought-iron tables and chairs and blue umbrellas for shade.
In the Dining Room, customers will step up to a counter and order from several chalkboard menus on the brick wall. They can dine in or carry out.
“Think of it as American pub fare. Comfort food,” Scott said of the food choices. He grinned. “We’re not trying to have a roasted duck with hollandaise sauce kind of place! We’re gonna have meatloaf and pasta and sandwiches and appetizers.”
There will be daily specials and the ability to erase an item and try something new, but “there will be constants, like our 8-ounce burger ($5.95 with house chips or fries) and our wings.” A 1-pound sauced order of 10 pieces is $7.95. The big chicken club, a breaded chicken breast with provolone cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomato and a side is $7.95, as are other sandwiches that will be on the menu.
Next door in the Banquet Room, up to 100 can gather for private parties. There is a separate restroom, TV and buffet area.
Plans include a weekday lunch buffet, Friday night fish fries and Sunday chicken dinners.
“I see a lot of that coming in the fall, definitely when school is back in session,” he said.
Landlord John Wright said he’s been impressed with Scott and Tim’s desire to use Lebanon businesses in the renovation and maintain a presence in the community.
“(Scott) even joined the Chamber of Commerce and the Brickstreet Merchant Association,” John said.
And the name Duke’s?
“I had a friend who owned a restaurant named Duke’s and it sounded like it was a cool place,” Scott said. “I thought it fit here. It’s simple. A strong name.”
What: Full-service bar and casual restaurant with carryout and patio dining. Banquet room available for up to 100.
Where: 115 W. St. Louis St., Lebanon
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Closed Sunday. Kitchen closes at 9 p.m.
Handicapped accessible: Yes.
Information: 618 808-0331 and on Facebook