Photo by Jess Charlton
From left, Ed Lindsay and Joe K’s co-owners Carey and Joe Keay. The restaurant, 2530 State St. in Alton, is celebrating its 10th anniversary.
ALTON — Joe K’s, 2530 State St., is celebrating its aluminum anniversary, and owner Joe Keay got a surprise from his employees.
Keay, his wife (and co-owner) Carey, and father-in-law Ed Lindsay started the business.
To celebrate the day, all 15 employees, along with Carey, surprised Keay and Lindsay with a party.
“I felt overwhelmed and shocked,” Keay said. “I was told we were going to go to Mac’s for dinner but had to stop here first. Then I was told we had to come inside to grab a few things.”
Hayley Allen, a line cook, said it took a lot of effort to make sure Keay didn’t discover their plans.
“We have been planning this for months,” Allen said. “It was hard to sneak around and talk about the party if Joe was around. We thought he had some idea.”
Setting up also was a challenge.
“We were hoping he wasn’t going to drive by or anything,” Allen said. “It (all worked out) to have all the employees enjoy a relaxing night together. We work so hard every day. It’s nice to just have fun one night.”
“I’m happy he was completely surprised by it,” line cook Robert Dixon added.
Diane Crawford has been with the restaurant since day one, and was one of the masterminds behind the party. Crawford was kept busy all week, snapping photographs to make a memory collage of the restaurant.
“We wanted to do something for Joe because this place has reached a milestone,” employee Rhonda Scheeler said. “We are coming out of one of the worst recessions and we have survived it. I just think it’s fabulous, really.”
Originally from Pittsburgh, Keay moved to the area and took positions with Alton Argosy Casino and Lockhaven Country Club as the executive chef before purchasing the restaurant from Jim Depper in 2005.
“It was always a dream of mine to own my own business,” he says.
He also says he owes everything to his “wonderful staff and amazing and loyal customers that are like family” to him.
“If it wasn’t for them, none of this would be possible,” he said.
Joe K’s is open daily from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. For information, call (618) 466-9796.