6 new spots planned for Keller Station Terminal
PEORIA – For years Andy Sepich has helped Travis Mohlenbrink run his stable of restaurants in the Peoria area – Cayenne, Cracked Pepper, Sugar, etc.
Today, Sepich is preparing to open its own stable. But all of his restaurants have to be in one place, in an old garage in North Peoria.
The Keller Station terminal, located on Knoxville Avenue next to Donovan Park, houses Sepich’s six concept plan.
It is part of a food hall / public market. The models are others that can be found in cities ranging from Waco, Texas, about as large as Peoria, to Vancouver, BC, a major metropolitan area.
Customers of every Peoria concept must feed a central dining room. Choices include a New York-style deli, ramen / Asian food noodle stop, gourmet grilled cheese specialist, pizza, Mexican tacos, and an artisan liquor bar.
Sepich is aiming for an opening at the end of the summer.
“I hope there will be something for everyone,” he said. “Do you want Italian or pizza?” Do you want sushi or Mexican? It gives you a lot of stuff in one place.
“It’s not a food court. Don’t offend them, but it’s not that kind of food. It’s quality stuff, right under one roof.”
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The nascent Sepich operation is to be a primary tenant of the terminal. Located elsewhere in the resort is The Missing Zither, a coffee-based craft liquor outlet from the owners of CxT Roasting Company in Keller Station.
“The concept of a restaurant that could fit into a well-located space at an affordable cost was really our goal,” said Katie Kim, developer at Keller Station. “We see the terminal as pretty much the heart of Keller station.”
The terminal site was the heart of the Illinois Department of Transportation complex that once occupied the current location of Keller Station. At first, Kim wasn’t sure what to do with the large dome-shaped garage that IDOT used to repair their vehicles.
As Kim moved into the food hall / market plan, Sepich decided to leave the Mohlenbrink, Spice Hospitality Group operation, and go it alone. This led to discussions with Kim about opening a restaurant, at least initially.
“When I started researching these food halls, I fell in love with the idea,” Sepich said. “Let’s try to come up with as many different options as possible.
“If you’re a family and mom and dad can’t wait to try some really authentic ramen, but you have a few kids who (aren’t), you can get them a grilled cheese or a slice of pizza.”
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The plan is for restaurants within a restaurant to be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The craft drinks section will feature waiters and its own 18-seat bar.
For those who might be wary of common seating in the wake of COVID-19, restaurants must have delivery service, curbside pickup and online ordering, Sepich said.
“I thought it was something that is almost COVID proof,” he said. “The thing about these food halls is that they are definitely popular places to grab and go.
“Eat in your car, take them home, whatever. But we also need to create some kind of eclectic vibe in there.”
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Kim hopes the mood will spread to other future occupants of the terminal. She said she is negotiating with potential tenants, including a fruit and vegetable seller.
“We aim to bring the community together to have a good time and eat great food,” Kim said.