A look inside the new McIlravy's Irish Pub in Belleville
After more than 40 years in downtown Collinsville, The Sandwich Shop on West Main Street has closed.
The Collinsville restaurant has been at 216 W. Main since 1974, when Judy Johnson and her then-husband bought the place and changed it from a shoe store to a restaurant.
Now, after four decades of serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to her regulars six days a week, she has retired. Johnson announced plans to sell and retire at the end of 2016.
Johnson, 76, said . She also wants to spend more time tending to the land she owns in the area.
Her customers are sad to see the place go, but Johnson said it's time to go now.
“We’ve all decided it’s been enough,” she said, speaking for herself and her family members who work there.
Listed for $249,900, the restaurant, including the name, business and catering service, has been on the market for nearly two years.
But a buyer with intentions of keeping the shop open hasn’t come forward.
“You couldn’t get better clientele. My customers are just the greatest,” Johnson told the News-Democrat in 2016.
Regular customers wished Johnson and her employees well after news of the closure spread.
Sandwich Shop waitress Geralyn Murphy-Hale expressed her gratitude on Facebook, thanking them for their support.
“Thank you all for letting us serve you all these years,” Murphy-Hale wrote. “It’s definitely been a joy to know all you and becoming like one big family. We’re sure going to miss you all.”
Longtime Belleville bar reopens as Irish pub
The former home of Stoney's sports bar in west Belleville has reopened as an Irish pub with slots and games.
Located at 3001 W. Main St., McIlravy's Irish Pub serves Irish beer and whiskey along with other drinks, including classic cocktails.
Decked out in green, the bar is the fulfillment of a longtime dream for Belleville native David McIlravy.
The Belleville West High School graduate purchased the bar and transformed it into an Irish pub that celebrates his heritage.
"It was a nice area here. I saw it was for sale, and I bought it," McIlravy said.
McIlravy's friends Mike and Marcia Ziska gave him a lucky leprechaun statue that sits above the bar watching over the place. The Ziskas owned the Antique House, which is now Spike’s Pub in Belleville.
Green lighting at the bar, a clover logo and other splashes of color throughout the bar were part of the makeover.
Draft and bottled beers are on the menu, too. The bar doesn't have an expansive menu, but if you're hungry, there are bags of chips for sale and the bar staff can bake a frozen pizza for you.
Drinks and games are the draw at McIlravy's, which is home to five new electronic game machines. A photo taken on St. Patrick's Day shows the bar packed with people.
The crowd at the pub came weeks after west Belleville lost the sports bar and restaurant Shenanigan's. Located at 15 N. 64th St., the watering hole vacated the west Belleville strip mall it had called home for more than 20 years.
McIlravy plans to stick around for a long time. Owning a bar is part of his retirement plan, he said.
Want to check it out? The bar is open from 11 am. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.
One more thing...
Excel Bottling Co. in Breese has released a new soda to help raise money for Community Link, a local nonprofit that supports children and adults with developmental disabilities in Southern Illinois.
The strawberry and lemonade soda creation dubbed "the Sweetest Mile" is available in most places where Excel products are sold.
The drink's name is a play on "the most rewarding" part of the Buddy Walk, a fundraiser that helps support programs at Community Link and also raises awareness for Down syndrome.
"The sacred mile represents the challenges that people with developmental disabilities face and the obstacles that they overcome," the nonprofit said in a statement.
Community Link’s 12th Annual Buddy Walk will be held May 5 at Northside Park in Breese. Registration begins at 8 a.m., according to the nonprofit's website.
Go to commlink.org/buddywalk for more information or to register for the walk or 5K.
Call Community Link Development Director Cindy Timmermann at 526-3938 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Do you have a tip? Send me an email at email@example.com. 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.