David Stidham retired this summer and promptly went back to work.
That work resulted this week in the grand opening of A Fine Swine at 423 W. Hanover St. in New Baden.
The barbecue joint offers the classic fare, including smoked meats, sandwiches and southern-style side dishes.
Stidham said his path to restaurant ownership started many months ago when he started looking around for a place to open his own restaurant. At the time, he was a marketing officer for Culver’s based in Wisconsin and he’d focused his search within the badger state.
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But his whole family is native to St. Clair County and his parents live a mile from the restaurant site in New Baden. When Stidham was in the area in May to help his dad recover from an illness, he incidentally also discovered the Hanover Street building was for lease. When he met the landlord and took a look inside, he fell in love.
“(The landlord) opened the door and I was like, ‘Oh my God,’” Stidham said. He’d wanted to get closer to home anyway, and this was his chance.
On Aug. 19, Stidham retired from Culver’s, a day before turning 50. He said his friends joked that he should have just bought a Corvette instead of starting a restaurant.
Opening day at A Fine Swine was Tuesday. Stidham on Wednesday said he was recovering from the exhausting first day but is excited to be “going for it.”
Stidham said his wife and kids are back in Wisconsin working to sell their home. They’ll all reunite when that home sells and buy a new place in the metro-east.