Metro-East News

Two new businesses open in Swansea, Toys R Us and Babies R Us buildings sold

Muttley & Me pet boutique opens in Swansea

The owners of Peace by Piece recently opened a pet boutique next to their popular retail shop in Swansea. The story offers gourmet treats shipped in from New Jersey.
Up Next
The owners of Peace by Piece recently opened a pet boutique next to their popular retail shop in Swansea. The story offers gourmet treats shipped in from New Jersey.

From birthday cake and cannolis to fashionable collars and soft beds, pet owners and their fur babies will find a colorful collection of gifts and treats at the new pet boutique in Swansea.

Muttley and Me opened Feb. 16 at 2427 North Illinois Street, Suite B.

Owners Jason and Christina Keck also own the popular gift and clothing boutique, Peace by Piece, next door. Jason Keck said the couple took suggestions from their customers before agreeing to open a pet boutique in the neighboring space.

Treats and gifts for pets have been popular items ever since, and customers are bringing their pets for visits.

“There’s probably been 30 to 35 dogs who have come to visit already,” Keck said. “We haven’t had any cat visitors yet, but we have stuff for them, too.”

The items in the bakery case are made in New Jersey, and other edible gifts in the store were shipped in from Canada. The country has stricter regulations for pet food makers, Keck said.

A look at a gourmet treat from the new pet boutique in Swansea. Cara Anthony

“Anything in here that you can give to your pet is a nice, natural product,” Keck said Wednesday. “If it’s not good for the pet, we’re not bringing it in.”

Keck and his wife, Christina, have always loved animals. Their dog Cooper died a day after the store opened. Photographs of Cooper now hang in the store along with dogs that belong to employees.

The store also has clothing items for men and women, key chains, handbags and other accessories for owners.

Muttley and Me will celebrate its grand opening at 10 a.m. March 23, but you don’t have to wait until then to shop.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

For more information, call 618-641-8176 or visit

Fletcher’s Kitchen and Tap opens new location

Fletcher’s Kitchen and Tap will open its new restaurant at the old Clinton Hill Golf Course in Swansea this week.

A limited menu and drinks will be available while the staff trains at 3700 Old Collinsville Road in Swansea. Service at Fletcher’s Kitchen and Tap’s original location in west Belleville will continue, co-owners Mike Eiskant and Derek Betz confirmed ahead of the opening.

“It’s a really unique opportunity,” Eiskant said in November. “We’ll have the ability to do events. It was a tight space over there. We could only get so big. This enables us to use the outdoor space, which a lot of people love.”

Fletcher’s Kitchen and Tap opens March 5 in Swansea. Provided

Known for its hickory grill, soup and pizza, Fletcher’s opened its Belleville location at 6101 W. Main St. in 2004.

Eiskant and Betz purchased the Swansea property and went to work improving the place in 2018. Both said they have searched for years before buying the former golf course building and more than acre of surrounding land.

Metro-east developer Mark Halloran owns the remaining property. He purchased the Clinton Hill Golf Course in Swansea for about $1.5 million, and wants to bring office buildings to the area.

“The economy is doing very well right now so this is a good time to do it,” Halloran said in January 2018. “That’s an unserved location. There’s a lot of houses around it.”

Halloran also noted that he expects demand for the office buildings because “a lot of people like to have their offices close to them.”

Miami-based developer purchases former Toys R Us and Babies R Us buildings

Less than a year after the nation’s top toy-chain closed, a new owner will take over the buildings previously occupied by Toys R Us and Babies R Us in Fairview Heights.

The Miami real estate investment firm, Corbin Holdings, recently purchased the properties on Commerce Lane. Corbin Holdings principal Ajay Dhawan confirmed the acquisition Tuesday, but would not disclose the purchase price.

Soon after the purchase, the company received offers from potential tenants, Dhawan said. Those offers will be considered along with other options.

IMG_0957 (1).jpg
The Toys R Us location in Fairview Heights will likely close after the company files Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week. Steve Nagy

“Hopefully we can invest in the properties and make them better,” Dhawan said in phone interview Tuesday. “We think Fairview Heights is a wonderful shopping corridor.”

Fairview Heights Economic Development Director Paul Ellis agreed.

“We’re pleased to see these retail properties in primary locations come back into use so quickly,” Ellis said. “And we are working with the new owners and regional brokers to identify and secure new tenants that will enhance Fairview Heights’ strong retail mix.”

When both stores closed, Ellis didn’t expect them to sit empty for long because the buildings are in a highly-coveted area. Both buildings were by Giraffe Properties LLC, according to St. Clair County property records. Corbin Holdings has purchased 10 former Toys R Us and Babies R US properties around the country.

In 2005, the building were sold for $6.3 million for the Toys R Us property and $3.4 million for the Babies R Us property.

Both Babies R Us and Toys R Us closed in 2018 as a result of filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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.
Support my work with a digital subscription