Metro-East News

Mexican restaurant coming to Fairview Heights; barbecue restaurant closes

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

It’s a total gut job.

When the former home to Applebee’s opens later this fall, locals might not recognize the Fairview Heights building.

New seating, fresh paint, new floors and mosaic tile will transform the former home of Applebee’s into a Mexican restaurant with a new look and a new vibe.

Rio Grande is expected to open this fall, Rafael Onale and his partners confirmed Tuesday.

The opening comes more than two years after Applebee’s Bar and Grill suddenly closed in 2016.

A large white “coming soon” sign, construction tape and new pavement in the parking lot show signs of progress outside.

Inside, new tile work around the bar, new floors and custom made seating are transforming the restaurant into food and drink destination again.

The restaurant located at 47 Ludwig Drive isn’t the only new establishment coming to the area soon.

Next door, Juicy Crab, located at 51 Ludwig Drive, could open as soon as November, owner Jack Chan said. His restaurant, previously occupied by Joe’s Crab Shack, will offer Cajun-style crab, calamari, fish and chips, and more.

Barbecue restaurant closes in Glen Carbon

The craft barbecue scene in the metro-east lost a destination when Coal Miners in Glen Carbon closed last week.

In a Facebook post Sept. 5, the Madison County restaurant announced plans to close Sept. 8, less than a year after opening.

“To our staff - We couldn’t have done this without you (and) are forever grateful to you for being a part of this journey,” a statement on Facebook said. “We are very thankful for all of the support we have gotten from all of our loyal customers and are excited to announce that big things are still to come!”

Owner Kelly Funk could not be immediately reached for comment. During a previous interview, Funk said she wanted the barbecue restaurant to become a destination for burnt ends and other barbecue favorites.

Coal Miners, located at 123 Glen Crossing Drive, opened in November 2017.

The restaurant’s catering services will continue and brunch will be available down the road at the Wooden Nickel, the sister-restaurant to Coal Miners.

Brunch starts at 10 a.m Sept. 9 at the Wooden Nickel, 171 S. Main St., Glen Carbon. For more information, call 618-288-2141.

One more thing ... La Senza here soon

L Brands, the parent company for Victoria’s Secret and PINK plans to open a third underwear and lingerie store in the mall soon.

Construction is still under way at St. Clair Square. La Senza, a new underwear and a lingerie shop, is expected to open later this month. Its parent company describes the shop as its “famously sexy brand.”

La Senza has 320 locations worldwide. As for L Brands’ PINK store in the mall, construction continues.

PINK will gain 3,000 square feet when the expansion project wraps up later this year.

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.