A familiar face will soon be taking the helm at Sangamo Club. Springfield native Sean Keeley is slated to become the executive chef and general manager as of Oct. 11.
Keeley is currently the lead culinary specialist at Lincoln Land Community College’s Culinary Institute and a well-known name in the Springfield dining scene. He worked as a chef at the former Renaissance Hotel, Crowne Plaza, Sebastian’s Hideout and Indigo, before going out on his own to launch Ross Isaac. The fine dining restaurant on MacArthur Boulevard closed in 2014 after nearly seven years of operations.
“I’m excited to be a local guy coming in,” said Keeley, noting that the past two general managers were hired from out of state. He said the kitchen staff at Sangamo Club, 227 E. Adams St., has been “holding down the fort” since the prior general manager’s departure last month. Joe Martin, who joined the Sangamo Club staff in 2014 as executive chef, later added general manager to his duties in 2019.
Like most restaurants, Keeley acknowledged that the Sangamo Club is also struggling with staffing levels. “They’re handling it, but it’s a bit taxing, especially on the kitchen crew. We’ll be looking for more help.”
Keeley also said he wants to focus on more training for the existing staff, noting, “The front house has serving experience, but they don’t have that fine-dining tuning yet.”
The private club has been making an effort in recent years to attract young professionals as members, and Keeley says he plans to continue that emphasis. “I want to change the menu up and modernize it,” he said. “But it won’t be an overnight menu overhaul, that’s rough on everybody. We’ll introduce two or three new dishes at a time.”