Metro-East News

Belleville has the best barbecue in Illinois, but it also has one fewer place to eat

Belleville’s Beast Craft BBQ is expanding to St. Louis

Beast Craft BBQ owner David Sandusky shares his plans for a second location in The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis in this video from April of 2018.
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Beast Craft BBQ owner David Sandusky shares his plans for a second location in The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis in this video from April of 2018.

Beast Craft BBQ Co. can’t stop, won’t stop.

The Belleville hot spot has been named the best place to go for barbecue in Illinois by Food & Wine. Its wagyu-style brisket helped it land a spot on the magazine’s list dubbed “The Best BBQ in Every State.”

“Completely humbled by the team at Food & Wine Magazine, but mostly by the effort from our management and staff. They are incredible,” the restaurant wrote on Facebook Tuesday night. “Shout-out to our friends at Big Baby Q and Smokehouse for winning best in Missouri. We agree with that pick.”

Beast Craft BBQ is expected to open a second location soon. This time the restaurant will plant roots across the Mississippi River in the Grove at 4156 Manchester Ave.

Looking for more great barbecue destinations?

National Barbecue News recently published its “Best of the Best Barbecue” guide, with Doc’s in Edwardsville rounding off the list for the best places to try in Illinois. 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro also made the list and was mentioned by Food & Wine as a place to try.

Future of Shop ‘n Save stores uncertain

The fate of the ownership of nine metro-east Shop ’n Save grocery stores was uncertain Thursday as the grocery store chain’s parent company said it will be sold in a deal worth about $2.9 billion with another company that said it intends to sell the stores.

Supervalu Inc., the Minnesota-based parent company of Shop ’n Save, will be acquired by United Natural Foods Inc., the companies said in a news release.

The deal is expected to be finalized late this year.

Shop ’n Save has two stores in Belleville as well as others in Cahokia, Collinsville, Alton, East Alton, Granite City, Edwardsville and Wood River, according to the firm’s website.

Rhode Island-based United Natural Foods said it intends to sell the Shop ’n Save stores “over time” in a “thoughtful and economic manner.”

A representative of Shop ’n Save could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Earlier this year, union leaders promised to protect jobs at Shop ’n Save after Supervalu had announced its plans to sell the company.

They echoed that concern on Thursday.

“It’s outrageous that the hard-working men and women at Shop ’n Save had to learn of this development on the news,” the United Food and Commercial Workers union leaders said in a statement. “We want to make it clear in the coming days we intend to fight to preserve our good union jobs, wages, and benefits won through collective bargaining for our thousands of hard-working union men and women working at Shop ’n Save.”

Tax troubles forced this Belleville restaurant to close

Tax trouble has forced a Belleville restaurant to close.

When Cozy Diner opened last spring, Sandra Vargas Bravo and her husband, Jesus, had long-term plans for their new restaurant.

They wanted to add a buffet, put up a new exterior sign and focus on their food. Getting their business license revoked wasn’t on their list.

The couple could not be immediately reached for comment, but in a February interview said that they were looking forward to the future of the restaurant.

“The previous owners were here 30 years,” Bravo said in February. “We’re hoping to bring it to a new level of comfort food for another 30 years.”

A for-rent sign sits in the window at the diner previously occupied by the House of Chiu on North Belt West in Belleville.

On the front door, a green sticker from the Illinois Department of Revenue explains that the diner’s business license has been revoked.

“Cozy Diner had a green sign posted on their business by the Illinois Department of Revenue due to non-compliance with tax laws,” the department said in a statement. “Due to taxpayer confidentiality laws, we cannot divulge the particulars of the non-compliance.”

In a June 21 Facebook post, Cozy Diner said it had closed temporarily.

“Sorry for the inconveniences,” the diner wrote. “Thank you for your patience.”

The building’s owner, Feng Ming Huang, said she is looking for new tenants.

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