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Onetime downtown staple Richard's is reopening on University

Enjoy Illinois

A former underground restaurant and bar is resurfacing in North Peoria this Black Friday.

Richard's on University, as it's now called, is opening at 11 a.m. on Nov. 25 at it's new location, 7805 N. University, next door to Elliott's Cabaret Roadhouse.

Richard's on Main opened in 2001 in a unique underground space at 311 Main Street, near the Apollo Theater. It was known for serving up food and beverages until 4 a.m. - long after most other establishments around town call it a night. But the business was put up for sale in 2015, and eventually closed in 2018. The building briefly saw new life as Jai's Multicultural Cuisine, but currently sits vacant.

Raul Salazar was a former cook and doorman at the old Richard's. At the new location, he's been bumped up to operating manager. He said the original owners asked him to run the restaurant.

"We brought back a bunch of the old Richard's menus, the same product, same recipes," he said. "Everybody was ready for Richard's to come back. They missed their food, even though it was just cheese fries. People are going crazy for (the) cheese fries."

The new eatery includes not only the aforementioned cheese fries, but other menu staples like horseshoes, tenderloins, mini tacos, and beef and cheddar sandwiches. Salazar is also adding his own barbecue items to the menu, like ribs and pulled pork.

What the menu won't include is alcoholic beverages. At least, not at first.

"We're trying to work on on a liquor license here, but we just don't have it right now," Salazar said.

Salazar said he's also working to get an updated version of the"Nymphs and Satyr" painting which hung in the old Main Street location. The picture infamously earned the scorn of prohibitionist Carrie Nation in a Peoria saloon back at the turn of the 20th century.

The new Richard's will be open seven days a week.

"It's cool to kind of bring the old school back, you know, back when downtown was fun and everybody was friendly and stuff like that. It was just a good time," Salazar said.

Tim is the News Director at WCBU Peoria Public Radio.