Jackie Rowley has already landed several times at Flyers Grill, a new walk-up/drive-through restaurant in New Douglas.
She was there again recently for lunch with her daughter and granddaughter, who had made there way down from Carlinville.
“Me and my husband ate here before more than once,” said Rowley, who lives just outside of town. “We’re happy to have it in the community. We couldn’t wait for it to open. The food is good.”
Rowley was not alone. As she and her family ate at the picnic table, a concrete driver pulled his rig over to grab some lunch. Mechanics came over from the local auto repair shop — both ordered horseshoes. There was even a call-in order for a root beer float.
“It’s taking off like crazy,” said Rachel Beckett, who opened the business Sept. 12.
Beckett, who also serves as the News Leader’s New Douglas correspondent, went to college with aspirations of becoming a teacher, but when the economy turned south, she made other plans. She worked in cosmetology for a while, but she always wanted to get back in the restaurant business.
“It’s where my real passion is. I wanted to get back to my roots,” she said.
Beckett grew up working at her parents’ bowling alley, 10 Pin Bowl in Carlyle.
“So, I grew up waiting on people,” Beckett said. “I started cooking when I was about 11.”
Beckett went on to work at a lot of restaurants over the years.
“After working for different places and different owners, I knew how I wanted to run things,” she said.
Beckett said she decided to open a business in New Douglas after the community’s school closed a couple years ago. She hopes it can become a meeting place for town, part of the “glue” holding the community together. The name “Flyers” is an homage to to the school’s former mascot.
In return, the community has backed her.
“We are doing so well I’m going to have to add a couple of cooks,” said Beckett, who currently has two employees, Clayton Schrumpf and Nicole Ridens.
But the support has been more than just patronage. Former mayor George Grindstaff helped her find the building, which was a former used car office that was sitting empty in the Bethalto area.
“George has been great. He’s helped us build. He’s helped us with tools. He did our signs,” Beckett said.
Many others have also offered encouragement or lent a hand.
Flyers Grill, which is planning a grand opening celebration on Oct. 30, has a menu that includes hamburgers with variety of available sides, pizza, chicken and ice cream.
“It’s basically all-American food,” said Beckett. “We do all our own signature burgers. We patty them out all by hand.”
A self-described “foodie,” Beckett wanted to bring food that the community would be familiar with, but with a twist.
For instance, there’s a Sriracha Burger, or you can try the Border Burger, which has refried beans, jalapenos and taco seasoning. Gyros will be coming soon.
“I’m trying to introduce all these unique flavors to this small area. I know there are people like me who will drive to St. Louis for flavors like that, and it’s nice not to have to make that drive,” Beckett said.
Flyers Grill also features Excel sodas, including Ski. Though it’s bottled in Breese, Beckett said the brands are also new to many of her customers.
“I’m from Clinton County,” Beckett said. “I’m like, ‘You need to try this.’ ”
It’s a all a big undertaking for a mother of young children. Beckett and her husband, Montt, have four kids, Morgan, Alice, Kaytie and Clara. But it’s her dream.
“This is just something I wanted to do for a long time,” she said.
About Flyers Grill
Address: 103 S. Main St. in New Douglas
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday-Friday / 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday
Phone: (217) 456-6555