Metro-East News

New barbecue restaurant opens; St. Clair Square loses another tenant

New barbecue restaurant’s burnt ends will keep you coming back

Owner Kelly Funk talks about the menu and smoker at the new barbecue restaurant, Coal Miners, in Glen Carbon.
Up Next
Owner Kelly Funk talks about the menu and smoker at the new barbecue restaurant, Coal Miners, in Glen Carbon.

The craft barbecue scene in the metro-east is getting more competitive with the opening of a new restaurant in Madison County.

Coal Miners in Glen Carbon is the latest restaurant hoping to join the St. Louis region’s elite barbecue club.

Located at 123 Glen Crossing Road, you’ll find classic and unexpected barbecue entrees at the restaurant.

Owner Kelly Funk hopes the restaurant’s “burnt ends” keep customers coming back for more.

What are burnt ends? A lot people, including Funk, describe them as the most flavorful part of a smoked brisket.

Burnt ends can be hard to find, but at Coal Miners you’ll find pizza topped with burnt ends, a sandwich stuffed with burnt ends and if you’re craving a plate of burnt ends without the extras, you can order that too.

If you’re not into that, the restaurant has chicken, smoked pulled pork and baby back ribs on the menu. Coal Miners also has specialty pizza. The Louisiana Lighting pizza is topped with roasted peppers, smoked chicken, andouille sausage and fiery remoulade sauce.

An all-you-can-eat brunch menu on Sunday includes smoked sausage and breakfast pizza.

Coal Miners is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday and is closed Mondays. For more information, call 618-288-6884.

Local residents step up to help restaurant owner

No one knew how sick the owner of Millstadt’s China King was until a message on Facebook explained everything.

Hai Chen and his wife, Hellen, had to temporarily close their restaurant when he was hospitalized in October. Chen found out he had a kidney infection.

A few customers heard he was ill, but no one knew how tough that would be on his family and their business.

That’s why Millstadt resident Christine Dormeier decided to step in.

Christine Dormeier posted a call for help on Facebook after a local restaurant owner suddenly became ill and had to close their restaurant for several weeks.

The mother of three identified with their story and Chinese heritage. She grew up in New York and watched her parents struggle to communicate at times because of a language barrier.

She didn’t want that to stop the community from helping the Chen family in their time of need, so she turned to Facebook for help.

“You may have heard the Millstadt China King owner and chef was sick and the restaurant has been closed for a while,” Christine Dormeier told her friends online. “I found out from his wife that he was indeed very ill with a kidney infection and was hospitalized.”

Her message, which was shared by more than 800 people on Facebook, asked the public to make a purchase from the restaurant and leave a generous tip.

Hundreds of people responded and offered their support to the Chen family. The restaurant had an hour wait and long lines soon after Dormeier posted that message.

“It touched my heart,” Hai’s wife, Hellen Chen said. “We are very thankful.”

Dormeier now sees the post as an act of faith. She later found out that both families are Christian.

“I’m really thankful to God,” Dormeier said. “I feel like there was something miraculous and divine about how it all worked out.”

Another business is leaving St. Clair Square mall

The opening of Sky Zone in Fairview Heights may have knocked a St. Clair Square tenant out of its space at the mall, according to its owner.

One year after opening, KnockerBall 618 has announced plans to close. The business is “just not as busy as it was,” owner George Roethemeyer said.

Roethemeyer knows online shopping has decreased foot traffic at the mall. On top of that, the new trampoline park in town, Sky Zone, was hard to compete with.

What’s KnockerBall? It’s a game where people step inside of large inflatable plastic balls and run into each other. The concept is popular around the country, but it didn’t work at the mall, Roethemeyer said.

Knockerball 618 has opened at St. Clair Square shopping mall in Fairview Heights, IL in St. Clair County in southern Illinois near St. Louis, MO, and offers patrons a chance to play knockerball. Knockerball is a game where people step inside of la

Their last day of business will be Dec. 17. To mark the closure, KnockerBall 618 will host an all-you-can-play event from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 15. The cost is $15 per person.

KnockerBall 618 will continue to do private parties and events off-site. For more information, check them out on Facebook or call 618-660-2660.

Do you have a tip? Send me an email at Of course, I’m available to chat on Twitter @CaraRAnthony, and if you really want to go old school, call me on my landline at 618-239-2471.

Cara Anthony: 618-239-2471, @CaraRAnthony