Skoog’s Pub & Grill, located at 155 Mill Street on “the strip,” was one of just a few downtown businesses that escaped the tornado unscathed. A plaque above the restaurant’s entrance commemorates the event. Skoog’s, along with other down town restaurants and businesses, is now enjoying a rebirth of sorts as park visitors from downstate, upstate, and all points between are again “flocking to the Rock” and filling Utica’s downtown shops and eateries.
Though Skoog’s realizes a large portion of their sales from liquor, the restaurant’s environment is decidedly “kid-friendly”. Kids are always welcome, and a smaller-portioned children’s menu is offered.
Skoog said the business’ clientele is comprised of a mix of about 75 percent locals and 25 percent out-of-towners, but the disparity lessens in the summer, when tourists swarm to the area by the thousands to enjoy a day at Starved Rock.
“Utica is a fun place to visit. The people are nice, friendly, and helpful,” Andy said. “I think it’s in the water”.
Andy and his wife, Holly, who works as a server, can usually be found at the restaurant working alongside manager Kevin “Choppy” Stewart and their two-dozen-or-so employees, serving drinks and food and chatting with customers.
“Come on in and watch the game and have something to eat and drink,” Andy said. “I guarantee you won’t come out of our place hungry.”
For great homemade food (virtually nothing on their menu is “out of the box”), it’s hard to beat Skoog’s, which opened in 2000 after lifelong resident Andy Skoog decided to renovate a closed tavern that formerly occupied the site. Skoog had gotten a taste of running a restaurant when he managed a bar and grill while a student at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston. After his 1995 graduation from EIU, Skoog returned to Utica and found employment as a route driver for a local beer distributor, biding his time until an opportunity to open his own bistro in Utica presented itself.
*Portions of Article taken from Peoria Area Dining & Food Magazine, May 2007 – By Tim Alexander
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