The parking space was what first attracted owners of Main door bar and grill to buy the neighboring massage parlor outside the foreclosure procedure.
Now Bill Tinsley and Debbie Fry are transforming this acquisition at 1102 E. Sangamon Ave. into their own entertainment strip just south of the main entrance to the Illinois State Fairgrounds with two more establishments in the works.
“Originally we were just looking for a parking space,” Fry said to greet customers at the main gate, 2143 N. 11th St. “Then we started to think about what we could do with the building. . “
The old Health & Wellness Massage building is currently undergoing renovations to sculpt homes for a revival of Keeley’s Place and a new whiskey bar, Kentucky Burn.
Keeley’s Place – owned by Tinsley – forgoes its old pizza offerings and switches to a sub-sandwich menu. Kentucky Burn – owned by Fry – will feature premium, hard-to-find Bourbon selections.
“I’m considering having an entertainment nook here, right across from the main fairground gate,” Tinsley said. “There are a lot of people, workers and visitors alike at the fairgrounds all year round. I think it’s a good fit.
Restaurant review:Dishes at charming Bella Trattoria in Williamsville are a hit
The objective for the two establishments is to open at the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022.
Keeley’s Place – named after Tinsley’s daughter – had a short run just four blocks away at 1417 E. Sangamon Ave. from 2014 to 2017. Tinsley sold the building – now home to a Miss Kimmees video game salon – but retained all rights to the company.
“I received an offer and sold the building in 2017,” he said. “I thought I would like to work from home. I got fed up very quickly.
He and Fry bought the old Good Timers Lounge in 2019 and renamed the historic watering hole as Main Gate Bar & Grill. Patrons have flocked to the bar in the North Eleventh Street building – which has operated under more than a dozen different names – since 1915.