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T.K.'s Southwestern Bar and Grill 11/07/17

Manager Ken Brien, left, and owner Kris Kelly, right, are shown at T.K.'s Southwestern Bar and Grill in Charleston on Tuesday.

CHARLESTON -- The bar and grill at 1405 4th St. may have changed hands but the southwestern Tex-Mex style taste has remained.

The restaurant now called T.K’s Southwestern Bar and Grill opened a couple weeks ago boasting a similar taste of that before even under new ownership.

Kris Kelly, hailing originally from Fairmont, has taken the reins of what is now T.K's. Kelly said he was always intrigued by the bar-restaurant business and was excited to take on this new venture. Before, he managed Town and Country Bar and Grill in Crispin.

“We got excited by the club side first and the history of the building with it (originally) being Krackers,” Kelly said.

Ashwood Bar and Grill filled that space earlier this year, but that was short lived. Kartik Shandil, the former Chicago-based owner, left the restaurant early in July, leaving room for Kelly to take on the business.

Kelly would not comment on the reasoning for Kartik’s departure.

Outside of Kelly’s introduction, much of the food and services that the bar and grill, as well as the club section, provide will remain the same with some added tweaks to spice up what is offered.

The menu has largely remained the same with much of the same cooking staff returning. A returning staple is the Shermanator burger, the hottest burger on the menu packed with jalapenos and “grim creeper sauce.”

However, some adjustments have been made, most notably with the addition of sandwiches and a kids' menu.

Stu’s, the club side of the building, will also see upgrades to the sound system and lights. Currently, they are still in the process of upgrading.

“We are looking to have a state-of-the-art light and sound show,” Kelly said.

Security around Stu’s has changed too. Over the years, Stu’s had a reputation as a place where fights broke out but that is going to change, said Ken Brien, event coordinator and club manager.

“Our main goal was to change that image to make it a fun, safe environment for everybody,” Brien said.

Brien said they have enlisted the help of a security group on select nights. This will be an added measure to assist the in-house security.

“That has made a huge difference,” he said.

New programs are planned for the bar as well for the club. Stu’s will host themed parties on a monthly basis. Brien said this month they are planning a fall foam party, where they will spray the club down with foam. In December, they are planning a winter wonderland themed party with fake snow machines to add to the night.

There are also plans to have more live entertainment during the summer months when fewer Eastern Illinois University students are in town, Brien said.

“We are consciously looking to draw in the local crowd,” Kelly said.

T.K.’s bar and grill opens from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Stu’s will be open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.

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Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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