An accountant and entertainer have teamed up to bring a new barbeque restaurant to Springfield. IC BBQ is scheduled to open on Saturday, April 24 in the former Turbo Fire Pizza space at 2415 N. Dirksen Parkway.
Jason Shields owns Shields Accounting Services, a private accounting firm with offices in Springfield and Panama City, Florida. One of his clients is Mario Canon, a Springfield native who has now found nationwide success as an actor and rapper. Shields and Canon are both investors in other businesses, including a SmallCakes franchise in Destin, Florida, that they co-own, so when Shields suggested opening a barbeque restaurant, Canon said, “I told Jason, ‘I’m all in; let’s go.’”
Shields then introduced Canon to Ira Carrier, a Peoria native with 17 years of restaurant experience who is serving as the head chef. Carrier also had recipes to utilize for the new venture. “Everything is based on original recipes, and the featured sides are incredible,” said Canon.
The next step was to find a suitable location. “We were already looking for space, and Turbo Fire was the perfect opportunity,” said Canon, referring to the recently closed restaurant that is part of a strip center on North Dirksen.
Shields said, “I’m one of those people who always looks at a great opportunity. When I saw the guy who owned Turbo Fire was shutting that place down and selling all the equipment, I knew that was a great deal.” Shields said based on his experience, the cost to open a restaurant is normally $250,000 to $300,000, but he was able to do it for a fraction of that by purchasing a turn-key operation.
The location was also a selling point for his business partner. While many new businesses choose to locate on the west side of town, Canon, a 2004 graduate of Lanphier High School, said, “I’m a huge supporter of north-side pride, all day.”
Although other restaurants have reported struggling to hire sufficient staff, Canon said it hasn’t been a problem for IC BBQ to hire enough people to open. “We all support each other; we’re all trying to grow,” he said of the team atmosphere.
“Our goal is to make this be so successful that we want to franchise this,” Canon said of future plans for the restaurant.
Shields said they have also purchased a food truck and plan to utilize that for the lunch business. “We’re planning on going out to businesses; we’ll have a limited menu and serve out of the food truck,” said Shields, who feels it will be more efficient to only have the brick-and-mortar location open for dinner. “To open during the day, you have to have a big traffic flow, you can’t just prepare a little bit of this and a little bit of that and have it all go to waste,” he said.
Initially, IC BBQ will be open from 3-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 2-9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, although Shields said he is considering adding weekend lunch hours once the business ramps up.
He is proud of the fact that they have partnered with numerous other Springfield-area businesses, ranging from the remodeling and finishes in the space to using Humphrey’s Market to supply the meats. “Especially after COVID, it’s been more of a necessity to support small businesses, but it’s always been something I’ve believed in,” said Shields. Local businesses are the nucleus of the economy.”