A group of local investors is planning to revitalize a vacant Hampshire restaurant site in hopes of spurring economic activity in the village's downtown.
Copper Barrel on State is expected to open early next year as a family-friendly establishment with a farm-to-table smokehouse concept, co-owner Aaron Perez said. The building at 172 S. State St. was previously home to the Corkshire Pub for decades before it closed in the spring.
With close ties to the area, Perez and his business partners jumped at the opportunity to refurbish the 4,122-square-foot space and create a gathering spot for residents to hold birthday parties, celebrate anniversaries and bring their families to dinner.
"It's a good location, and the town and the community really want something back downtown," Perez said. "We're looking to be the place that's there for all occasions."
Perez and his wife, Kristie, who also own The Lodge on 64 in St. Charles, purchased the property with longtime Hampshire residents Randy Stevenson and Michelle Bunkowske. The group intends to renovate the site in phases over the next couple years, starting with a full facade and interior makeover, Perez said.
The bar will be expanded, the entrance from State Street could be made larger, and the dining room floor plan will become more open, he said. The group hopes to eventually add an outdoor beer garden and a banquet hall.
Filling vacant storefronts and adding unique businesses to Hampshire's downtown district were among Village President Jeff Magnussen's goals when he was elected in April to another four-year term. Copper Barrel on State does just that, he said, while also providing residents with an evening dining option -- something that's severely lacking in the area.
The restaurant is expected to serve mostly American fare with some multicultural offerings and southern influences, Perez said.
"I think this new venture will certainly be a drawing spot," Magnussen said. "It'll be a nice boost for the downtown area, no doubt about that."
The former Corkshire isn't the only downtown property gaining interest from private investors. Linda Kost, senior broker for Realty Metrix Commercial, said multiple offers were also made on the shuttered Palazzolo's Pizza at 145 S. State St.
A potential buyer, who intends to redevelop the site, is expected to close on the property within the next month, she said.
"It's going to be a great benefit to the older downtown Hampshire and bring in a lot of foot traffic," Kost said. "Hopefully this will be the domino effect it needs to revitalize other properties on that block."