MONMOUTH — Chase T. Gibb’s fourth restaurant — and his first in Illinois — will be in Monmouth.
Gibb, of Burlington, Iowa, is buying the former Cerar’s Barnstormer restaurant at 1201 W. Broadway, with plans to make the location a regional dining destination once again.
For Gibb, a Smithshire native, opening a restaurant in Warren County is a bit of a homecoming.
“I’ve been wanting to get back into Illinois. The time is right now,” said Gibb, who has been in talks with city officials and consultants about what he could bring to the area.
Gibb’s restaurants in Iowa have won multiple awards for their pork tenderloins, prime rib, and steaks.
He has been at the helm of The Buffalo Tavern, an historic neighborhood bar and grill in Burlington, Iowa, since 2011.
In 2018, he opened a sister location, Buffalo61, in Fort Madison, Iowa, after renovating the former Chandler’s Bar and Grill there.
And in 2019, he moved an 11,000 pound coal fire oven into the former The Italian restaurant in Burlington as the centerpiece of Coal Haus 337, which serves coal fired pizza and steaks.
“It’s hard for me to see a building sitting empty when I know I could do something with it,” Gibb said.
Though there are still a lot of decisions to be made about the Monmouth venue, including the name, Gibb said a few things are for certain.
The restaurant will provide catering for the area in addition to dine-in and carry-out service and the back room of the restaurant will again be available for private parties.
Gibb wants the Monmouth venue to fulfill multiple needs in the community, including catering, special events, and dining options for those wanting to come in for a sandwich and a $20 meal a couple times a week as well as those looking to spend more for special occasions.
“We try to have options for everyone,” Gibb said.
For now, Gibb is thinking the menu will likely include steaks, seafood, and other specialties from his restaurants, with a different flair than the former Barnstormer menu.
“That belongs to them and I need to do what I’m good at,” Gibb said.
Gibb said he expects to close on the Monmouth property in a few weeks and begin renovations of the dining area soon using local contractors. An opening date isn’t set but Gibb said September could be possible.
The restaurant will employ 30-40 people and Gibb is already looking for local talent, including management. He said benefits are available for his employees.
Gibb said his three current restaurants have done well during COVID-19, with carry-out, curbside, delivery, and a mobile wood fired oven popping up to serve customers in Burlington and Fort Madison.
“We’re busy all the time,” Gibb said. “You get out of it what you put into it.”
His Iowa restaurants have now reopened for dine-in service.
The Barnstormer opened in Monmouth in 1979 and closed permanently in early 2019. Former Barnstormer owner Kevin Cerar is now collaborating on a new brewpub set to open in Monmouth’s historic Patton Block building later this year.