Downtown Springfield restaurant completes expansion

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The Springfield News-Sun provides unmatched coverage of businesses in Clark and Champaign counties. For this story, the paper spoke to a downtown business owner and a real estate developer who are working to renovate the Hull Plaza downtown.

A downtown Springfield restaurant recently completed a significant expansion that its owner hopes will help draw more customers to a historic building that houses the business.

Although it’s only been a couple weeks since the expansion was completed, more customers have already begun showing up at the Mobile Dogs Cafe, 10 W. Main St., said owner Jeff Wade. The diner opened in 2009 in the former National City Bank Building, now known as Hull Plaza.

Initially, the restaurant included a counter that seated about 12 customers, but the expansion added 2,200 square feet and enough space for 57 customers. The site now also includes a handful of televisions, its own restroom, free wireless Internet and a conference room.

“It’s paying off,” Wade said of the renovation. “I got what I asked for.”

The expanded restaurant is part of a larger plan to restore the historic downtown building and attract new tenants, said Robert Hull, who purchased the downtown building earlier this year and has already renovated the building’s main lobby. Hull is also replacing metal on the building’s exterior with marble, and repairing limestone outside the structure.

The building also houses the Turner Foundation and Fresh the Barbershop, among other businesses.

Eventually, the goal will be to attract new tenants. But that effort will begin in earnest once the building’s exterior has been restored, Hull said.

“I’m trying to restore it to its original look and feel when the building was built,” Hull said.

Wade had been planning the Mobile Dogs expansion for a couple years, but got a boost when Hull bought the building. Wade asked for more space for his business and completed much of the work himself after Hull agreed.

The restaurant focuses on serving breakfast and lunch and is open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.

For about three months, Wade finished running his restaurant in the afternoon and worked nights completing the renovations. Often, he wouldn’t finish working until the early hours of the next morning. Wade also noted he had lots of support from Sierra Maloney, his fiancee who also works as a waitress at the restaurant.

“I did everything myself that I was allowed to do,” Wade said.

The new space also includes a lengthy lunch counter that allows customers to look out onto downtown Springfield as they eat.

“I just wanted people to be able to look outside and not stare at a wall,” Wade said.

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