Fischer’s Restaurant, a longtime Belleville establishment, is closing.
Co-owner Annette Allan confirmed employees had been told the restaurant at 2100 W. Main St. would close on Feb. 15, but declined additional comment.
Allan runs the restaurant with her sister, Kathy Bingheim, and general manager Corea Buck.
The restaurant at 2100 W. Main St. has been family owned for more than 80 years. It was run for many years by Kenny Fischer, the longtime Belleville restaurateur and civic leader who died Jan. 18, 2016, at age 84.
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The staff was told of the plans to close at an afternoon meeting Thursday.
“Besides losing our father, this probably is the worst day of our lives,” Allan said.
The restaurant has about 60 employees.
“We’re concerned about our employees who have been with us for a long time,” Allan said. “We’re so concerned about them. Our employees are family to us.”
The restaurant had one of the largest banquet rooms in the metro-east, along with nine private party rooms. For years, it was the site of many large public gatherings, from Chamber of Commerce banquets to the annual Belle-Scott Dinner.
Over the years, additions made room for a nicer sit-down restaurant, WIBV radio station, miniature golf course, A&W Root Beer stand and a hotel, which recently was converted into Lindenwood University student housing.
Allan said she and Bingheim plan to sell the 12,000-square-foot building.
However, the last few years has been a financial struggle for the restaurant when dealing with competition, rising costs and keeping up with the bills, Allan said. She said the restaurant has lost money for the last six or seven years.
“The economy has dropped, prices have gone up (and) we haven’t raised our prices in a couple of years,” Allan said.
The restaurant business is tough. I appreciate their many years of service. They’ve been very good to Belleville, a good icon to this city. We’ll certainly miss them.
Mayor Mark Eckert
Allan said the executor of her father’s will recommended they close the restaurant.
On Thursday, restaurant employees were calling people to cancel reservations after Feb. 15, including wedding receptions and Christmas parties.
The restaurant’s final event is scheduled to be Mayor Mark Eckert’s Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 15.
Eckert said the planned closure is sad to hear as he regularly ate at the restaurant.
He has known of their struggles and said he respects their decision.
“The restaurant business is tough,” Eckert said. “I appreciate their many years of service. They’ve been very good to Belleville, a good icon to this city. We’ll certainly miss them.”
Eckert also was hopeful about another business replacing the long-time establishment.
“As we continue to do some growing in the city, we’ll have something new that will start to step in to fill that void,” Eckert said.
The news comes days after another longtime metro-east restaurant announced plans to close. The Dandy Inn in Fairview Heights plans to close Jan. 15 after nearly 40 years in business.