Metro-East News

One restaurant closes in Fairview Heights while a new Mexican buffet prepares to open

Last chance for Peruvian food at Fairview Lounge

The Fairview Lounge Bar and Grill, at 10616 Lincoln Trail in Fairview Heights, will stop serving Peruvian food on February 23 and will transform into El Niño Mexican Buffet on March 2.
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The Fairview Lounge Bar and Grill, at 10616 Lincoln Trail in Fairview Heights, will stop serving Peruvian food on February 23 and will transform into El Niño Mexican Buffet on March 2.

After five years of serving Peruvian dishes and snacks to loyal customers in the metro-east, the owners Fairview Lounge will soon make big changes to their restaurant on Lincoln Trail.

Abraham Abdalla and his wife, Lorena, plan to convert the lounge and gas station into an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet next month.

The last day to get Peruvian food made by Lorena Abdalla is Feb. 23. A grand opening for El Niño, the couple’s new Mexican buffet will be held at noon March 2.

“My wife is really sad about this,” Abdalla said Thursday. “But we’re putting family first.”

Lorena Abdalla will manage the kitchen, but a Mexican chef will do the cooking this time around, giving the Abdalla’s more time to focus on family.

Serving Mexican cuisine will also take away the stress that comes with tracking down Peruvian ingredients.

“She refuses to substitute,” Abraham Abdalla said of his wife’s effort to make sure every dish is authentic. “It’s hard to get our ingredients all of the time and that keeps us behind.”

The couple hopes the community supports their buffet that will be open seven days a week.

Lunch will be available for $8.95 per person from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Dinner will cost $13.95 per person and will be served from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The lounge will serve late-night nachos seven days while the bar is open.

Bar and gas will continue to be available from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays.

Lorena Abdalla will offer Peruvian catering services by request.

Lorena developed the Fairview Lounge menu. She grew up in Peru, immigrating to the United States in 2003. She added her own twist to recipes from her mother, grandmothers and aunts.

“I love to cook,” Lorena said in 2015. “I always cook for my family, and when we have big parties, everybody wants to try my food. They love it.”

Abraham, born Abdalla Ibraham, came to the United States in 1998 as a student from a college in Dublin, Ireland, to serve an internship with the Hyatt Regency hotel in St. Louis Union Station. He later worked at another restaurant and managed the convenience store before buying it in 2002.

For more information about El Niño or the couple’s catering business, call 618-394-8904.

After 15 years on Lincoln Trail, Fortel’s Pizza Den has permanently closed its Fairview Heights location Feb. 15, 2019.

Fortel’s Pizza Den in Fairview Heights closed

After 15 years in Fairview Heights, Fortel’s Pizza Den has permanently closed its metro-east location on Lincoln Trail, a store manager at the pizzeria’s Missouri store confirmed Thursday.

A handwritten “closed” sign on the front door marked the end of an era for the Fortel family and fans of the pizzeria.

The Affton, Missouri store will continue to operate.

Bob Fortel, who died in 2003, opened the family’s first restaurant in 1981 in Affton. The pizzeria moved out of that location and into a new store in Affton in 2003. Later that year, Fortel’s opened the Fairview Heights location at 10716 Lincoln Trail.

According to a sign on the store’s marquee, the Fairview Heights store permanently closed Feb. 16.

The owners could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday, and the phone line at the store was disconnected.

Fans of the restaurant can still visit the Affton store at 7932 MacKenzie Road.

Second Illinois location for Lion’s Choice will be ‘prototype’

Do you love roast beef? Lion’s Choice will open a second location in the metro-east next year.

Fans of the roast beef chain restaurant can look forward to a new Edwardsville store opening in mid-2020, the St Louis company confirmed Friday.

Lion’s Choice opened an Illinois restaurant in 2018 in O’Fallon, replacing Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut shop. That location shares a building with Reliance Bank at 450 Regency Park, across the street from The Egg & I. It was also the first Lion’s Choice in the country to offer breakfast.

Jessica Crouch, marketing coordinator for Lion’s Choice, said the Edwardsville location will be modeled after an existing prototype for the company.

The building will showcase a new design, feature custom artwork and offer a digital loyalty program and online ordering.

Outside of the metro-east, the company is expanding into the Kansas City area and hopes there will be a location in Columbia, Missouri in the future, Crouch said.

Cara Anthony covers restaurants and retail for the Belleville News-Democrat, where she works to answer readers’ questions about restaurant openings, business closures and the best new dishes in the metro-east. She attended Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and grew up in East St. Louis.
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