1869 Grille opening in Student Center

Megan Lisota | @m_lisota

By Juniper Oxford, Staff Reporter

Steak ‘n Shake has left the SIU Student Center and construction has started on a new burger joint, the 1869 Grille. 

Steak ‘n Shake closed Dec. 13 of last year, according to Tena Bennett, director of the Student Center.

 “We started [the next day] on trying to come up with a new concept and making changes with the location and have been doing that since then,” Bennett said.  

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There is no opening date set for the 1869 Grille.

“We do not have an exact date yet. It is going to be as soon as we possibly can,” Bennett said. “There is a lot of pieces into opening a restaurant and being also a state entity. We have to do a lot more to make sure we do all of our things correctly. Everything from hiring staff to getting credit card terminals set up.” 

The Grille will have custom-made burgers, breakfast foods and fries.

“We are going to do a kind of hand-crafted hamburger and fries,” Bennett said. “It will actually start with breakfast in the morning. We will do more of a made-to-order breakfast and do those items there. In the afternoon and evenings, it will be hand-crafted burgers where you can pick and choose your toppings.” 

The Grille will have the usual toppings and toppings you would find on custom burgers at high-end restaurants. 

“Everything from the basics of lettuce, ketchup, tomato, pickle to some higher end grilled mushrooms and grilled onions, something along those lines as well to put on your burger,” Bennett said. “We will also be doing the appropriate sides, and grilled cheese and those types of items out of there as well. That’s the plan.” 

The restaurant is owned by the university and is not part of a chain. She said the name 1869 Grille comes from the year SIU was founded, Bennett said. She said the Student Center tries to keep its food affordable for students.

“We set our own price points of all of those, outside of Chick-fil-A and Starbucks,” Bennett said. “Those are mandated by their corporations. We set our own price points in the salad bar, the Mexican line, and even the pizza concept. We try to keep them as affordable as we can for the students because we know everyone is on a budget.” 

The Grille will be open Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m Bennett said. 

“I do think that there will be more traffic,” Kaylan Talley, a senior studying criminology and criminal justice and a Bowling and Billiard Center attendant, said. “I think that, with Steak ‘n Shake, when it was doing well, that there were a lot more students on campus coming here to eat and bowl. Especially during dinner time, so I think it will help out a lot.”

Talley said the largest contributing factor to the closing of Steak ‘n Shake was the wait time to get the food. 

“I think what hurt Steak ‘n Shake most was how slow they are,” Talley said. “People had to stand and wait there for 30 minutes for one hamburger and some fries or even just a milkshake half the time so I think that with SIU owning it and taking over that I think it will be a little better managed for this facility.” 

Bennett said the owner and operator of Steak ‘n Shake chose to leave the university partially because he was not meeting his target income goal. 

“I think there was a level of service that may have not gotten met by some people so they may not have used Steak ‘n Shake as much as we would have hoped,” Bennett said. 

Reporter Juniper Oxford can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @JuniperOxford.

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