Acclaimed barbecue restaurant 17th Street BBQ (1711 West Highway 50; 618-622-1717) will close its O'Fallon, Illinois, location at the end of the month, co-owner Mike Mills tells us. The other two locations, in Murphysboro and Marion, Illinois, will remain open as well as the catering business.
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"It's a very sad moment for me," Mills says. "I really hate that this has to happen. It's not a pretty thing."
Mills is a three-time Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (a.k.a. the Super Bowl of Swine) winner, and also opened Memphis Championship Barbecue in Las Vegas. Basically, he knows barbecue.
Mills says there has been a decline in business, and he and his business partner, daughter Amy Mills, decided the best thing to do would be to consolidate. O'Fallon was the third location for 17th Street BBQ, and the only one not actually located on a Seventeenth Street.
"It only makes sense that [O'Fallon] was not as profitable as the other two locations. It's just the decline of the business," Mill says. "We've had good business, but it's just not enough to sustain the operation that we want."
Customers can expect business as usual up until November 30, its last day, and everyone will still get the Thanksgiving turkeys they ordered. About 50 employees will be out of a job, though some are moving to the other two locations. Mills says they are helping the remaining employees find a job anywhere they can.
"I appreciate all the support that we've received over a period of years. This is probably one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, to close this location," Mill says. "It's in Southern Illinois, and my heart is in Southern Illinois. It's been great to work with everybody up there."