Angie Keefner-Grieser, owner of Keefner’s, said the restaurant will close at the end of this month if she hasn’t identified a buyer by then.
“I’ve come to the conclusion that I can’t financially keep Keefner’s open,” she said. “The last two-and-a-half years have been very difficult, with the last year being the worst of all.”
She said government assistance during the early days of COVID enabled her to stay open, but now rising costs for food and labor have made things unsustainable. “Payroll has gotten so high, and you have to be competitive. Plus, the price of food is going up, and you can’t raise your (menu) prices high enough.”
Keefner-Grieser opened Keefner’s, 1941 W. Iles Ave., in 2015 as a tribute to her father, Paul Keefner, who owned Bachman and Keefner Drugstore in downtown Springfield. It operated at 530 E. Capitol Ave. from 1912 to 2004. Keefner-Grieser included many of the signature items from the soda fountain counter on her menu and the restaurant has a collection of items that were part of the décor from the drugstore where she worked as a teenager and young adult.
She later managed the nearby Office Sports Bar & Grill for 12 years before the landlord for Montvale Junction approached her with the idea of having her own place. However, Keefner-Grieser said the restaurant business is “just not for me anymore. It’s been mentally draining.”
Keefner-Grieser said she also had to consider her own financial position as she approached retirement age. “I’m 53, and I didn’t have a financial future with Keefner’s.”
In May, she took a position as district manager for state representative Sandy Hamilton, who was appointed to 99th Legislative District at the end of 2021 to replace Mike Murphy.
Hamilton, who is also a broker with ReMax Professionals in Springfield, has Keefner’s listed for $199,000.
“I think it could be a gold mine for someone else,” said Keefner-Grieser. “I’m not willing to be open as much as it could be. I have to take care of myself, that’s basically what I’m doing.”