By Carey Smith

The Railyard is a hip urban concept new to Springfield, expected to open in April 2021. Operating out of three shipping containers and a former barbershop, this mostly outdoor venue will offer a variety of foods in a unique environment featuring a lot of green space.

Kirk Jefferis, a commercial real estate developer, bought the property at 2242 S. Sixth for parking and also to control the view for the businesses he owns nearby. Formerly Gallagher’s Steakhouse and then Charlie R’s, it was in the process of being remodeled to reopen as Black Ox Steakhouse when a fire consumed all but one of the buildings on the site.

To create and develop The Railyard, Jefferis teamed up with Dave Matthews, a California transplant with 15 years of experience as a chef, and Chip Kennedy, a local restaurateur and chef, both with a variety of business venture experiences. Their food service experience includes 5flavors Catering, Cinco Sabores at Lake Springfield Marina, Finley’s Tap House and Fire & Ale in Sherman. Matthews describes The Railyard as “a really cool outdoor dining establishment that will have a variety of cuisines to appeal to a lot of people.”

The remaining building on the property will be remodeled to become a taqueria with a small amount of indoor seating, plus restrooms. Outside, in a transformed green space, three shipping containers will provide a variety of food options.

“One of my hobbies is making ice cream,” says Jefferis, “so one of the shipping containers will be a creamery. One will feature Texas-style barbeque. One will have ramen bowls and sushi.”

Matthews says, “All menus will be very short to not overwhelm our potential guests with too many options but still give them a wide variety. There is something for everyone to satisfy them.”

COVID-19 restrictions may have disrupted the restaurant industry, but the partners believe The Railyard is structured to thrive despite restrictions. “We’re going forward with the ‘new normal’ and outside dining is going to be huge,” states Matthews. “Even before all this happened, we were looking into outside seating venues because we have some great summer months in Springfield.”

The property sits adjacent to the newly constructed overpass on South Sixth Street, part of the Springfield Rail Improvements Project.