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Two area natives are looking to bring back a local favorite in reopening Howie’s on Main in Vandalia. The business has been closed since the end of 2020.
Chris Walton and Jon Denton, along with a silent third partner, will be reopening the establishment hopefully the first weekend in June. They say they plan on several soft openings up until that time.
“We are trying to get our staff trained as much as possible an make sure operations are all lined out for the public,” Denton said.
Both men were born and raised in Vandalia and have been friends for years.
Denton had worked at Giuseppe’s while in high school, then attended Kaskaskia College and SIUE in Edwardsville while helping manage the Depot and Mabry’s.
Denton had some trying times and made some bad life choices during this time, but got his life back on track before becoming the national sales manager and director of sales for Fogwind Vapor Company in Effingham.
Walton has constantly been in the food industry, having attended culinary school at Kaskaskia College and working at several local restaurants. After leaving Kaskaskia, he worked for an Italian restaurant in Chicago, but did not like the big-city lifestyle, and moved back to Vandalia, where he helped open the Copper Dock Winery in Pocahontas.
He met his wife and began to settle down, and started a family. He worked for State Wide Tire for a while and began saving his money.
“Since fifth grade I always wanted to open a restaurant,” he said.
The two friends began talking about opening an establishment, and with the help of an undisclosed third, jumped on the chance when one day Denton saw that Howie’s was available.
The duo plans on serving steak, pasta, and seafood, and everything will be locally produced. They have put five Diamond pool tables in the basement and hope to start an in-house league and regular tournaments as well.
They are also planning a lunch buffet and a full menu, and promise to get customers “in and out” quickly.
Later, they hope to provide a Sunday brunch, and eventually breakfast as well, although limited to weekends. They also want to expand in the future, having a walk-up window for take out orders.
The business will employ 20-25 people, with 4-5 of those positions being full-time.
“A lot of these employees have full-time jobs and were wanting to help us out in opening the restaurant,” Denton said.
John Broux photo
Chris Walton, left, and Jon Denton are busy cleaning up the last bit of space and readying Howie’s on Main to reopen. The duo, along with a silent third partner have plans to reopen the business, after it closed last year.