JERSEYVILLE — A piece of the town’s history has come back to revive old memories and make new ones.
That’s just how Jeff Heitzig envisioned it when he opened The 518 Restaurant March 17 — as an homage to its predecessor, Sherry’s at 518 South.
Co-owner of The 518, Heitzig, along with his wife, Linda; her brother, Pete Proffer; and his brother’s wife, Vicki, bought the building last May and spent the rest of the year figuring out what they were going to do with it.
Heitzig said it wasn’t until after Christmas when the idea of re-opening the restaurant came into play. This January is when they decided to open the restaurant, he said.
The restaurant, a former mansion built in 1847, once belonged to William Shephard, a wealthy Jerseyville resident. Shephard and his family of nine children, four girls and five boys, stayed in the house until the last child died in the late 1920s. Heitzig said they used to call the mansion the “Auntie house” because all of the aunts lived there.
“Once the last child died, the mansion was turned into a boarding house,” Heitzig said.
It remained a boarding house until into the 1950s when it was converted to a nursing home. In 1980, Heitzig said, a group of five business couples from Jerseyville bought the house.
“They bought it and remodeled it and turned it into 518 South, which stayed open for 26 years until it closed its doors,” he said.
Sherry’s at 518 South closed its doors in 2010 for various reasons. Heitzig and his partners decided to reopen the vacant business because of the building’s history.
“It’s a place where everybody saw everybody,” he said. “We want it to be as successful as before.”
Since its opening, Heitzig said the restaurant has been a success.
“People thank us every day for reopening the business,” he said.
Heitzig said none of them have restaurant experience.
“That would have been too easy,” he said. ”But we had a couple in mind to hire as our chef and manager, and they had experience.”
They hired past co-workers of Sherry’s at 518, chef David Robertson and his wife, Susan, manager of the new restaurant.
Heitzig said they didn’t want to change anything from the original business.
“We even copied the recipes,” he said.
Since owning the building, Heitzig said they have remodeled the upstairs and will rent it out for 20- to 30-person parties. Heitzig said he hopes it continues to grow and be a success.
For information, visit the website www.the518jerseyville.com or call (618) 498-4011.