JERSEYVILLE — The new restaurant at 518 S. State St. in Jerseyville will look a lot like the former restaurant at the location, and that’s exactly how co-owner Jeff Heitzig wants it.
Heitzig and his wife, Linda, along with her brother Pete Proffer and his wife, Vicki, bought the restaurant, formerly called 518 South, last spring and have been working on getting the doors open ever since.
Heitzig said the goal is to come pretty close to duplicating the old restaurant, including the name — the new restaurant will simply be called The 518 — and the place settings, most of which were in the house when the group purchased it. The offerings also will be similar to what 518 South patrons remember, from steak, to chicken, to fish and everything in between. Heitzig even said the former owners have helped to recreate old recipes.
“The bar’s been remodeled,” Heitzig said. “Some furnishings, some signs. But, basically, (patrons) are going to be amazed at how similar it is.”
It’s a risky venture for the two couples, as none of the four owners have any past experience in the restaurant business. Rather, Heitzig said they decided to purchase the restaurant because they have an interest in seeing the building rejuvenated after being closed for the last two or three years.
The restaurant is located in a mansion that belonged to wealthy Jerseyville resident William Shephard in the 1850s. His family lived in the house until 1928, and it acted as a boarding house until the 1970s. In 1980, a group of Jerseyville businesspeople bought the house and turned into the original 518 South restaurant.
The restaurant was most recently Sherry’s At 518 South, but it closed late in 2010. It’s sat empty since, but after months of work the group is planning on opening the restaurant on March 17. Heitzig said it’s been a busy last few weeks trying to get everything in order for the big day.
“There’s just so much going on,” Heitzig said. “It’s a crazy time. Our heads are spinning at this point.”
Despite not having any previous experience — “that would make it too easy,” Heitzig said — the restaurant has hired two former 518 South employees to handle the cooking and managing. Heitzig said Dave Robertson will run the kitchen and his wife, Susan, will manage the restaurant.
While much will stay the same, some things will be different about the restaurant this time around. Heitzig said they’re planning on expanding to add an outdoor patio dining section onto the back of the restaurant when the weather warms up. The upstairs portion of the restaurant, which is used for small banquets and parties, is also being remodeled. The standard upgrades — paint, carpet, flooring — are also being made to the restaurant’s interior, Heitzig said.
With just a few days to go, Heitzig said people are excited to see the new old restaurant.
“We’ve had a lot of great feedback from our community and friends and family,” Heitzig said. “We’ve got so many people that can’t wait to get in there.”
Nathan Grimm may be reached at 618-463-2515 or on Twitter @GrimmTelegraph.