A new restaurant called The Cobblestone Eatery and Drinkery has moved into three 1860s storefronts on St. Louis Street in Lebanon, replacing 1814 Eatery & Drinkery.
Cobblestone opened April 16, five weeks after 1814 closed. It still has exposed brick walls, original wood floors and high tin ceilings in the dining room, bar and private party room. Co-owner Travis Lewis, 41, of New Baden, plans to decorate with old black-and-white photos and interesting artifacts.
"I want to give it an antique/vintage look because that's kind of what Lebanon is all about," he said. "We appreciate the history."
Lewis has two partners. One is Joe Metzger, 44, of Trenton, a fellow graduate of Mater Dei High School in Breese who has worked as a chef for 25 years. The friends also own 7 West Bar & Grill in Trenton.
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The other Cobblestone partner is John Galle, 35, a St. Louis pharmacist and graduate of Columbia High School. He and Lewis operate an ATM business together.
Earlier this week, the three men gathered on the restaurant's tiered brick patio with black wrought-iron umbrella tables and potted plants. The front half stays shady most of the time because of tall buildings on either side.
"At night, it looks really nice with all the lights," Metzger said, pointing to a string of Edison-style bulbs hanging along the wooden fence.
Cobblestone serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and dinner from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The bar stays open until 2 a.m. The owners hope to offer live acoustic music this summer.
The lunch menu includes a variety of burgers and other sandwiches, ranging from pulled pork and blackened chicken to Reuben and French dip.
"We have a lobster mac and cheese burger," Metzger said. "It's smoked Gouda mac and cheese mixed with lobster, and it's on a 9-ounce burger. We locally source all our ground beef."
The dinner menu features salads, appetizers, a few sandwiches, steaks, chicken, seafood, pork and pasta, including a popular avocado carbonara.
"We have some signature items that are different for the area," Metzger said. "We have a smoked fish dip that we import from Florida. We also do fresh tuna ponzu (seared tuna, sliced thin and served with housemade ponzu and sweet Thai chili). All of our steaks are hand cut in-house. Our brisket is probably our best-seller."
1814 Eatery & Drinkery opened in 2016 as an offshoot of Tavern on Main in Belleville. Owner Mark Onstott sold it to the Cobblestone partners on March 1.
"I didn't have time for it, and I couldn't keep it up," he said, noting that Metzger used to work for him, and he thought he would do a good job in Lebanon.
Regulars at Cobblestone have included the building owner, John Wright, and his wife, Bonnie. They enjoy the Thai grouper, lobster roll, barbecue shrimp, burgers and sweet Italian salads (they get large and share). One of their friends raved about the meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes.
"I know I'm the landlord, but the food is excellent," said Wright, 77, of Lebanon. "The portions are amazingly generous. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a nice, pleasant dinner, either on the patio or inside."
Debbie Root, who works down the street as a secretary at Christ Brothers Asphalt, has eaten at Cobblestone three times. Her favorite dish was the seasoned grilled tuna, served with rice pilaf and fresh vegetables.
"The food is good, the service is good, and it's a good atmosphere," said Root, 65, of Mascoutah. "It was just a good experience all around."
The Cobblestone Eatery and Drinkery is at 115 W. St. Louis St. It seats about 150 people, including 40 on the patio. The private party room has its own bar. For more information, call 618-808-0330 or visit its Facebook page.