Jim Kent is the new general manager of Evandy’s Boatel in Naples. “It’s a stunning place on the Illinois River,” he said. “A good friend of mine, Eric Van Gundy, is the owner and I agreed to help him out with the place. My background is in business consulting, and I decided to take him on as a client.”
Kent was previously the community relations manager for the Springfield Sliders and also worked as a consultant for Hall’s Harley-Davidson. He is currently finishing a term as president of the North Grand Avenue Association, a role he says he is stepping down from now that he will no longer be working in Springfield. He and his wife, Susan, plan to continue to live in town and he will be commuting to the restaurant, an hour away.
The Naples Boatel opened in 1959 and included a motel and gas station, in addition to the restaurant. The original structure was destroyed by fire in 1991. Last month was the five-year anniversary of Evandy’s Boatel, the restaurant rebuilt at the same location by local farmer Eric Van Gundy and two of his longtime friends, Charlie and Nancy Evans.
“It’s a destination place,” Kent explained. “We draw from Springfield, Peoria, St. Louis, all over the place. We do great on the weekends, but we’re struggling to get people to turn out during the week. One of the things I’ll be working on is our marketing; we lack a social media presence right now.”
Kent said he is also redesigning the menu and fine-tuning the service. “Evandy’s is the most beautiful restaurant in central Illinois,” he said. “I hope people from the Springfield area will come and visit us if they’ve never seen it.”