COBDEN — A new restaurant with a familiar presence has popped up on the corner of North Appleknocker Drive and Oak Street in Cobden.
Downtown Abbey — not to be confused with a popular PBS television show — opened its doors about five weeks ago. And, already, business owners are blown away by the local response.
Terri Addison, founder of Abbey Ridge Brewery, which burned down Feb. 1, 2017, is back in business in place of former popular pizza joint Palace Pizzeria, which closed a couple years ago.
The Pomona brewery opened in 2014 and served a full menu out of a location a short drive off Illinois 127.
Addison owns the business with partners Cindy and Phil Royster.
The new restaurant serves family-style pizza with a recipe from Addison’s family. Additionally, sandwiches and salads are on the menu for a quick lunch. The menu is much simpler than Abbey Ridge's, mostly because there are no fryers in the new location and because of the size of the kitchen, Addison said.
“It was a pizza place for the past 20 years so it was a logical progression to continue that history,” she said.
Although the business is new, there are plenty of reminders of the former restaurant in Pomona. The staff is made up of all family, just like when Abbey Ridge first opened its doors. The base of the tables were salvaged from the fire. Addison said they were sandblasted and cleaned up after finding them charred from the blaze. Also, the lights that hang above the bar never made it into the Pomona spot, but were destined to be there after being made by Addison’s father.
Addison and her partners are in the process of a purchasing agreement with the current owners of the business. She said the plan is to rebuild Abbey Ridge and keep Downtown Abbey.
“This is not a fly-by-night, kind of spin our wheels until we can get things going,” she said. “This is a permanent fixture.”
As for Abbey Ridge in Pomona, Addison was very clear about one thing — it will be back.
“Come hell or high water, that place is going back up,” she said.
The reconstruction process has been slow, Addison said, citing troubles with the insurance company. She said the business is in the middle of litigation, which caused the funding from the policy to stop. The financing from the lending institution was dependent on the payout of the policy, so everything is up in the air.
Addison addressed the rumors head-on about what happened in Pomona. She said the rumors about the business owners confessing to arson and taking off with insurance money are untrue. She said the business was growing and successful. In fact, Abbey Ridge just finished an event center expansion and had plans to paint the facility on the morning of the fire, Addison said.
She said there has been some movement at the former site. Concrete has been poured for a floor, because the lawsuit doesn’t stop the owners from doing any construction. Due to the pending litigation, it’s impossible to give a timeline as to when anything else would move forward, she said.
However, while Addison and her partners fight for insurance money in court, Downtown Abbey brings fresh revenue into the business.
“We were looking for other means of cash flow because our business was gone,” she said. “In the meantime, this (Downtown Abbey) would something to mitigate our cash flow dilemma.”
Downtown Abbey is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant can be reached at 618-216-1032.