MUSCATINE, Iowa - An Illinois dining tradition is coming to downtown Muscatine this summer.
Steve and Heidi Heirigs of Blue Grass are getting ready to open the first franchise of the Red Oak Comfort Food and Pie Co., a popular restaurant in the historic Swedish village of Bishop Hill, Ill.
They are in the midst of preparing the former Volunteers and Information building at 413 E. Second St., in downtown Muscatine, and are hoping for an early September opening.
The menu will include the same homemade soups, fresh salads and sandwiches as the Bishop Hill establishment.
The Heirigs said they always enjoyed the Red Oak and wanted to bring the home-style selections to Muscatine.
In April, Heidi e-mailed Red Oak owner Trisha Nussbaum-Rux, saying, "We need a restaurant like yours here."
Nussbaum-Rux suggested the Heirigs open a franchise, said Heidi, and she and Steve agreed.
The Heirigs, originally of Muscatine, wanted to establish their business in this city's downtown area and said the vintage 1912 building they found will complement the Red Oak's atmosphere.
The couple also like the fact that the business brings them closer to their parents, John and Connie Whitlock and Bob and Betty Heirigs, who all live in Muscatine.
Heidi will oversee the books and be a hostess for the restaurant.
Steve, 47, will be the cook. Steve, a 1981 Muscatine High School graduate, managed Happy Joe's in Muscatine from 1984-90. He was also a kitchen manager at Hy-Vee in Milan, Ill. for 12 years.
Heidi, 40, is a 1988 MHS graduate and certified public accountant who stays home with the couple's sons, Ben, 11 and twins Will and Joe, 8.
The Heirigs said they look forward to bringing home-cooked, natural foods to Muscatine diners.
They will peel and mash the potatoes they serve and prepare their soups from scratch.
The Heirigs will serve breakfast and lunch at their restaurant and prepare food gift baskets for delivery. The packages will contain their home-style food, frozen, and can be heated up for a quick meal or given as gifts.
The gift baskets will include a homemade casserole, bread and pie.