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Wheelhouse to launch second restaurant inside Vib

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The Wheelhouse LLC is opening its second restaurant — and its first brick-and-mortar location — inside the millennial-focused Vib hotel.

Melissa Smallwood, who owns the food truck with her husband Zach and other family members, said The Wheelhouse will launch the new restaurant when the hotel is completed. She said the hotel’s owner-operator, Elliott Lodging Ltd., is now targeting a mid-June opening at 1845 E. Sunshine St. after delays.

“We’ve been looking for a brick and mortar for probably three years. We wanted something that was unique like we are,” Smallwood said. “They wanted something local. They wanted travelers to be able to visit Springfield but to still get that local experience staying in the hotel.”

Smallwood said the financial arrangement with Elliott Lodging also was appealing. Rather than a typical lease agreement, The Wheelhouse will pay 10 percent of its sales at the location. The restaurant, which will be open to the public, will be located in the hotel’s lobby.

The Wheelhouse operators plan to keep their 1670 E. St. Louis St. food truck open through the transition. Smallwood said the food truck will have a smaller menu, and the full menu would be moved over to Vib.

“If it fails, we can always come back to our truck,” she said.

The Wheelhouse inside Vib also represents a partnership with Katie Kring, whose B + B Boulangerie & Bakery will provide pastries and treats, and Mount Vernon-based KeenBean Coffee Roasters. The restaurant also will serve cocktails.

The Wheelhouse is known for its Thai and Mexican fusion dishes. Smallwood said the venture brought in an estimated $250,000 in sales last year.

“We’ve only gone up every year,” she said.


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