Second Burger Barge to open in East Peoria

By WEEK Producer

March 14, 2013 Updated Mar 14, 2013 at 9:54 PM CDT

EAST PEORIA, Ill. -- The old VFW Hall on Meadows Avenue in East Peoria is getting some renovations.

"Floors, walls, ceilings. There's electrical and the plumbers will be doing all the work on the plumbing," explained Rich Crowe, a member of the crew doing the remodeling.

When the job is done, sometime before summer, the place will open as a second location for the Burger Barge.

The new restaurant will feature an upscale bar called the Captain's Quarters and employ between 20 and 30 people.

"We've got all kinds of jobs coming with all of the new levee projects. We just want to be a part of East Peoria growing and we're growing too," said Burger Barge co-owner Jen Adams.

Adams is partners with her mother, Gigi Irwin, who opened the original beach-themed bar and grill 14 years ago.

A native of Delavan, Gigi learned the restaurant business in San Antonio and Hawaii, where she apprenticed for a world famous pastry chef.

After she returned to central Illinois she decided to open her own place. And now it's a hit.

"We have gained in popularity, which we love," Irwin said. "The community seems to love a good burger and we like to accommodate them."

Bill Gabelhausen's a regular customer. On Thursday he was treating a friend from Hamburg, Germany, to lunch. But the Hambuger never ate one like they serve at the Burger Barge.

"It's a unique burger. The service is good, friendly, and I like being down here close to the river," Gabelhausen said.

The original Burger Barge was started on a pontoon boat on the Illinois River. After three years the restaurant was dry docked. They moved to riverfront property off Route 116 and they've been there ever since.

The new location will provide more space. But Adams says for customers who prefer the Tiki Bar and the beachside atmosphere, "We plan on staying here for as long as the public will have us."

And their burgers.