The museum café is being restarted; Opening a new restaurant; The fall list is growing

The museum café is being restarted;  Opening a new restaurant;  The fall list is growing

ExplorUS specializes in turning around underperforming theme park franchises.

The Overland Park, Kansas-based hospitality management company operates in state and national parks throughout the United States. It now adds Abe Lincoln to its portfolio as park operator. Lincoln Cafewhich recently opened in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum at 212 N.

The café has marked the franchise’s return to the downtown Springfield tourist attraction ever since subway Closed spring 2020.

ALPLM spokesman Chris Wells said ExplorUS was awarded the 5-year contract in February after submitting the only bid to operate the café and gift shop.

The gift shop opened in June with a selection ranging from top hats to T-shirts. The Lincoln Café began serving customers for the first time in mid-October. The menu features a range of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, individual pizzas, salads, soups and desserts. The kids menu ranges from peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to macaroni and cheese.

The Lincoln Café is open to the general public. Entry to the museum is not required. Working hours are from 8 am to 3 pm daily. Indoor dining and takeout are available.

The rent generated from the rental, plus a portion of sales, goes to the library and museum.

The Presidential Library and Museum is ExplorUS’s fourth contract in Illinois. The company also operates concessions and retail at Starved Rock Lodge and State Park in LaSalle County, the Illinois Beach Hotel in Zion in northeastern Illinois along Lake Michigan, and the White Pines Lodge at White Pines Forest State Park in Ogle County.

ExplorUS, formerly Ortega National Parks, has been in business since 1995. The company’s website says it operates more than 60 locations across the country, focusing on small and medium-sized park operations.

more: The popular downtown bakery is opening its location on Springfield’s west side just in time for Black Friday

Family plans new cafe

Springfield diners are accustomed to operators Sgt. Pepper Cafe Spreading holiday cheer after decades of offering free Thanksgiving and Christmas meals to the public.

This year, the Samara family received another gift – a second café on track to open by the end of the year.

Preparations are already underway for a second sergeant. Previously opened Pepper’s Cafe Ritz at 700 W. Jefferson Street.

“Same menu, same reasonable prices,” says Ziad Samara, who has run the café with his wife Souad since opening its first location at 3115 Chatham Road in 1999. But this time, there’s a different Samara name on the title.

“Our son Mohammed is the sole owner. He has worked with us since he was 14 years old. He is now 40 years old. It is time for him to have his own place.”

The goal is to open in early to mid-December, Samara said.

Sgt. Pepper’s Café is known for its menu full of comfort foods ranging from pies to pony shoes.

This wouldn’t be the first time the café has had multiple locations in Springfield. The main location moved to the Chatham Square Center at 1754 Chatham Road one year after opening. Two years later, the Samara family named a second location — and its current home — at 3141 Baker Drive in Park South. The café in Chatham Square Center closed during the decade. It is currently home to Godfather Pizza.

“They were very close,” Samara said. “We were attracting the same customers. When we closed the Chatham store, our sales here were up 20 percent.”

“This is further out, and draws from different areas of the city.”

The Ritz, which closed its doors in August, was another family-run café locally. The Ritz operated for two decades before the recent closure. Owner/operators Curt and Vicki Ritz are still in business Ritz Lil’ Fryer At 2148 North Grand Ave. E.

The restaurant opens early on Black Friday

With him It opens early Friday for Black Friday shoppers looking for a good deal.

The restaurant, located at 3241 W. Iles Ave., will be located at 3241 W. Iles Ave. Open November 24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow holiday shoppers to purchase gift certificates to the fine dining establishment. Food will be available that day during regular dinner hours of 5-10 p.m

Vele will award an additional $25 for every $100 in gift certificates purchased on site that day.

New burgers and specialty pizzas are on the menu

Many newcomers have joined Fire and beer Autumn collection.

The Sherman establishment has added blackened shrimp tacos, a shaved ribeye sandwich, catfish and a grilled garlic cheeseburger. The full burger selection can be ordered as a single, double, triple patty or made with Wagyu beef.

Several new specialty pizzas are on the menu, as well as entrees like Alfredo fries and wings.

Get your Christmas list

Area restaurants offering special Christmas meals or local businesses willing to help set the table for home feasts will be featured in upcoming a la carte columns. Local caterers, restaurants and food-based businesses interested in participating must submit information by December 4.

The “A La Carte” column highlights restaurant openings, closings, renovations and relocations, as well as staff changes and business news. Natalie Morris can be reached at (217) 737-7254 or via email at

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