Friday, July 28, 2017

Dale's Burger Shack

Even with its grand opening a month away, according to this story, Dale's Burger Shack is doing very well. Even though competitor Fat Patties is recognized as one of the best burger places in the state, its downtown location hurts it significantly. Dale's Burger Shack's location in Murdale Shopping Center gives it access to both plenty of parking and two way traffic on Highway 13.

Fat Patties' downtown location, especially with the construction in downtown, has no readily accessible parking. Its most convenient parking is located behind the building and needs much bigger signage to call customer attention to it. In addition, it is located on a one way street, so that people heading south have to deal with the intersection of Hwy 51 and Mill Stree

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Work at the Pony

Looks as if there is some work being done at the long closed Pony nightclub. Both of the exterior signs have been covered and there are half a cozen contractor's trucks parked in the bulding's parking area.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dunkin Donuts Construction

Construction underway repairing the parking lot at the Carbondale Dunkin' Donuts. From the size of the culverts, it looks as if people may be able to walk through the new ones. Drive through supposed to open this weekend but reopening the inside is still aways in the future.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mary Lou's Grill

Mary Lou's Grill, a downtown mainstay since 1962, has see the same drop in sales that hit El Greco's and put out a similar post earlier this month. From their FB page on July 13:

As most of you know my husband Robert and I own Mary Lou's Grill in Carbondale. Due to many factors including the influx of many chain restaurants,the economy of our very unstable state and the massive taxes from our city and county --business at our restaurant and at many if not all Locally Owned restaurants is CRITICALLY down!!
We have been in business since 1962--one of the oldest family owned places. We have had to lay off some of our employees from 5 days a week to just 3. We have cut our Saturday staff in half. This is by far the most difficult year we have seen. All of our staff including our family are hard working people and appreciate the opportunity we have been given in Carbondale all these years.
But now are asking for your help--Please don't forget us!! I am speaking for all the LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED BUSINESSES in our town
Shop and eat at our businesses--and contact your city council and ask them to lower these taxes which are a big part of what is driving business out of Carbondale. Many of the restaurant owners have been at council meetings to plead our case but to no avail. We really need your help.
Thank you for your support!! God Bless!!

Apparently it worked as this was the post on the restaurant's FB page on July 14:

OVERWHELMED!! thank you for all the support!! if you came in today-sorry we were a little understaffed for the turnout--we will have more staff on Saturday as we always do. Biscuits and Gravy all day tomorrow.
Just wanted to make people aware of the situation for all our small locally owned businesses and we sure heard from a bunch of fine folks
We are going to do everything we can to survive this-- as we hope the rest of the small businesses will do so!!😃

Monday, July 24, 2017

Dunkin' Donuts Temporarily Closed

According to an email from the Chamber of Commerce, the east side Dunkin' donuts (You know, the one with the parking lot that collapsed last spring), has temporarily closed. They hope to have the drive through open again by the weekend and inside service "soon".

Sacramento Bee

Carbondale's eclipse preparations and activities made the Sacramento Bee.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Downtown Alcohol

The city wants to remind you that people will be allowed to carry alcohol in plastic containers in the downtown area during the weekend before the eclipse (you did know an eclipse is coming, right?) No coolers or outside drinks allowed, all alcohol consumed must be purchased from licensed establishments, so I guess no purchasing a 24 pack of Keystone from ABC Liquor Mart and sitting in the town square drinking them, though I wonder if you could buy a 24 pack of Keystone and then pour the beer into plastic cups. After all, It was purchased from a licensed liquor seller and is in a plastic container.

Going to be interesting seeing enforcement of this> I imagine the concert area on Washington will be fenced off, making crowd control easier, but the rest of downtown is a pretty good sized area.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Elks' Lodge

Looks as if the Elks Lodge is getting some much needed masonry work done on their building. At least there are Brad Cheatham Masonry signs outside the building.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Downtown Construction

Downtown construction in front of the Dairy Queen. According to the workers, they expect to finish this section of S. Illinois this week.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

El Greco 2

Downtown Carbondale's El Greco got a huge boost in sales yesterday after its social media post about declining sales. The problem for the restaurant is, will this keep up? It is one thing to stir up people and get them into your place of business for a one-off event but quite another thing to keep them coming in and eating.

Nationally, restaurant sales have dropped over the past few years, a combination of supermarkets offering prepared meal options, a shift to high end and low end restaurants, an increase in takeout and delivery (which reduces the likelihood of impulse purchases off the menu) and fewer people opting to eat out for lunch.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hollywood Lounge Liquor License Suspended

City manager Gary Williams, acting on the direction of the Mayor, suspended the liquor license of the Hollywood Lounge last Sunday. This was in reaction to a shooting that took place at the bar early Sunday morning:

On July 9 at 1:40 a.m., Carbondale Police Officers were in the area of the Hollywood Lounge when they heard and responded to a gunshot fired from inside the bar. Police officers entered the establishment and following an investigation, it is believed a victim received a non-life threatening injury from the gunfire inside the Hollywood Lounge. 
Later that Sunday morning, Mayor Mike Henry, acting in his capacity as Chairman of the Local Liquor Control Commission, directed the City Manager to take all reasonable and necessary actions to ensure that the public isn’t exposed to any further risk from actions that may occur at the Hollywood Lounge. 
Following advice from City staff and pursuant to Section 2-2-3 of the Carbondale Revised Code, Mayor Henry summarily suspended the liquor license for Hollywood Lounge.
“The City Council and I are committed to revitalizing Carbondale and it starts by ensuring that our City is safe for all residents. We’re not going to tolerate this type of violent act that occurred this weekend and certainly not from any of our liquor establishments,” added Mayor Henry.  
Police Chief Jeff Grubbs stated, “Our police officers are working diligently to quell violent acts in our community and we need to use all the resources we have to assist them in their efforts. That is why it is so refreshing to have a Mayor and City Council who are standing behind them and assisting them every step of the way.”
“This suspension is further proof that both the Council and City staff are working together, setting higher standards for our community,” said City Manager Gary Williams.
A hearing will be held before the Local Liquor Control Commission on Tuesday, July 18 regarding the status of the liquor license for the Hollywood Lounge.

El Greco

It appears, according to this post that has made the rounds on social media, that downtown Carbondale landmark restaurant El Greco has seen sales drop severely, among other reasons due to the construction along Hwy 51. As you may recall, El Greco closed several years ago, only to return under new ownership. Hopefully, they will see the surge of business that their announced closure then brought through the doors:

Ok folks How much do you  El Greco!? I am asking for your help. Come in this month and help us stay afloat! We are looking at not making payroll. We are down more than 50% from previous years. There is construction out front ( that has likely really hurt us) but you can still get to the parking lot behind El Greco from the front or back. Ethen is there and would love to see you!

It Appears We Have A Chancellor

From the SIUC Chancellor's website

Dr. Carlo Montemagno, a professor of engineering who founded and currently leads the interdisciplinary Ingenuity Lab based at the University of Alberta in Canada, will become the next chancellor of Southern Illinois University Carbondale pending approval of the SIU Board of Trustees.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Chancellor Search

Why is it taking so long for the SIUC Board of Trustees to select a chancellor for the university? As far as I can tell, the BOT has tabled the search and since the interim chancellor's contract expired, we now have SIU's president assuming the Chancellor's duties as well. The BOT had 4 candidates who met the criteria they had set, two withdrew, so you make the selection from the other two. You don't keep dithering around hoping for someone else to apply. It is insulting to the two candidates and leaves the university in a holding partern, which it can ill afford currently.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Road Closures

Notice from the city about a couple of road closures on the east side of town, both in the Lewis Lane area:

Grand Avenue from Lewis Lane to Giant City Road will be closed to through traffic on Monday, July 10 for water main work. 
The closure will be in effect from 7 a.m.-4 p.m.
Lewis Lane between Grand Avenue and E. College Street will also be closed starting at 7 a.m. This closure will remain in effect until further notice.

Free WiFi

Well, free in that city taxes will pay for it but downtown Carbondale will get public wifi late this summer, just about the time eclipse fever hits, at least that is what the city hopes. Downtown Carbondale had public wifi a decade ago but the system proved slow and unreliable so the city discontinued its operation without much fanfare.

The city is concerned about whether the new wifi system will stand up to the strain of the estimated 50,000 additional people coming to Carbondale for the eclipse. The system, as designed, will easily handle 1000 people or more on it at a time, whether it can stand the strain of 50,000 people accessing it is another matter.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Income Tax Rates

Illinois currently has a flat income tax rate of 3.75%, meaning the percentage does not go up as your income rises. Missouri, meanwhile, starts off at 5% and increases with your income. Kentucky also starts off at 5% and is progressive. Wisconsin, also progressive, starts off at 4%. Indiana, with a flat 3.23% is the only state bordering Illinois with a lower flat income tax rate than Illinois has. Iowa has a lower starting tax rate at only .36% but has the highest state income tax for its top earners at 8.98%

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

New Bar

According to the agenda for this week's LAB meeting, we have a new bar coming to town in the 200 block of  East Main. Not sure there is a demand for another bar or, more likely, a video gaming parlor but, as long as there is a license available.  Neither Social House nor Gold Diggers lasted too long in that block:

Roll Call
2. Approval of Minutes from May 24, 2017
3. Election of Officers
 4. Application for a Class B2 liquor license (on premises consumption of all alcoholic liquors) from Dan Terry, sole proprietor, d/b/a The Sand Piper at 213 East Main Street
 5. Citizens’ Comments
 6. Adjournment

Monday, July 3, 2017

Downtown Hilton Opening Date

Heard over the weekend that the new downtown Hilton will miss its planned opening date of early to mid-August and will instead open its doors the week afterward the Great American Eclipse passes overhead