Rachel and Dan “Spike” Speichinger drove past the bar on the corner of North 37th and West Main streets a lot as they considered buying the building.
“We couldn’t tell if anybody was in there because it was so dark and there were all these shrubs around the front of the building,” Rachel said Tuesday. “The place wasn’t known for its food.”
The couple wanted to change that — and more.
Once they took possession in February 2014, the work started to create a neighborhood establishment where everybody gets a “Hi!” when they walk through the door and college students are as welcome as the folks who live on the block.
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“We wanted to make sure everybody felt at home here,” said Rachel.
Spike’s Pub & Grub opened at the end of March that year with a gray and red theme going on inside and out, and new windows to bring in more natural light — “I like to be able to see my food,” said Rachel. Plus, they added flooring, air conditioning, bar, big-screen TVs, tables and chairs and a spanking new kitchen for Blake Anthony to work his culinary skills. Most days you’ll see him near Spike’s deck, smoking turkey and pork. Give him a wave.
“The menu is a combination of the chef and me,” said Rachel, who runs the kitchen. “He’s the one who talked us into the pulled pork and smoked stuff.”
She and Spike are glad he did: The pulled pork nachos, with slaw, sour cream, jalapenos and cheese ($7.95), have become a big hit. You can turn the pulled pork into tacos ($5.95) or a pulled pork plate (with slaws and fries, $8.95). The fish tacos are equally as popular, plus you can get the seafood grilled or fried ($6.95).
Spike’s grandfather started Otto Speichinger’s Tavern in Millstadt. It’s still there, run by Spike’s aunt, and known for its fish. You’ll find the 50-year-old recipe recreated in Spike’s Fish Plate (fried cod, slaw and fries, $8.95).
Rachel, 32, said she wants Spike’s to be known for its simple but good food.
“My big thing is fresh, not frozen,” plus some creative naming of menu items.
“We support all the teams,” she said. There’s the (Althoff) Crusader Calzones, (Belleville East) Lancer Dog and Fries, Mighty Maroon Mozzarella Strips, (Lindenwood) Lynx Burger & Fries and the Bowl of (SWIC) Blue Storm Chili.
The full bar offers a variety of bi-state brew, including neighboring 4204 Brewing Co., Big Muddy and Schlafly.
Eat inside in the dining area or out on the deck. There is video gambling on the bar side, with free games like Basket Pong and Golden Tee on the dining side.
And if want a brunch-style meal on weekend, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday you can enjoy pancakes, omelets, eggs and breakfast sandwiches. Everything is served a la carte with most items $3.95.
Rachel said the neighbors have welcomed them, and Lindenwood University students have discovered a little bit of home away from home there. That’s especially true of some of the foreign students.
“There have been times when I’ve come in and heard Portuguese over here and had Eastern European students over there,” she said. “We just want to get people to try us.”
Spike’s Pub & Grub
What: Full bar, casual dining menu; limited brunch menu Saturday and Sunday.
Where: 3701 West Main St., Belleville
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily. Kitchen closes at 9 p.m.
Handicapped accessible: no
Information: 618-235-2734 and on Facebook