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Lots of new restaurants popping up around Bloomington-Normal

The new Pop-Up Chicken Shop building on North Hershey Road in Bloomington.
Pop-Up Chicken Shop Facebook Page
Pop-Up Chicken Shop is relocating to North Hershey Road from the VFW Building.

Eleven new restaurants have opened, or are in the process of opening, in Bloomington-Normal.

One of the most notable is Pop-Up Chicken Shop. The restaurant, known of course for its chicken, is relocating from the VFW building on East Lincoln Street to the former JP Wheel and Alehouse establishment on North Hershey Road in Bloomington.

Pop-Up Chicken Shop just named Erick Salazar, former district manager of numerous Buffalo Wild Wings locations in central Illinois, including both in Bloomington-Normal, as its general manager. The restaurant is now looking for team members. The new location is expected to open by the end of the month.

Those not fixin’ for chicken can try out Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ that will open this fall in the Shell service station on East Oakland Avenue.

Larry Carius, who runs the popular Bloomington-Normal Restaurant Scene Facebook page, said the ownership of Crave Hot Dogs and BBQ is something worth note.

“The woman who started this is a younger woman who’s making waves in the restaurant industry. She’s won several awards. So we have a female-led hot dog and barbeque chain,” said Carius.

The restaurant is based out of New York and is relatively new, established in 2018.

If you miss TGI Fridays, which closed in April 2020, fret no longer. Barrel House is coming to Bloomington. It’s a small chain based in Eastern Iowa, and the Bloomington location will be its first in Illinois, going into the same building where TGI Fridays was — attached to the Doubletree Hotel. Carius says it’s the same kind of food, too.

““It’s almost like a TGI Fridays. They call themselves an upscale beer and burger place,” he said.

And a Jamaican restaurant is making its Bloomington debut as well. It’s called Dop’s Jerk House, and it will be opening on East Washington Street near Tony’s Tacos and the round Jimmy John’s building. Carius says, as far as he’s aware, it’s the first Jamaican restaurant to open in Bloomington-Normal.

Jack Podlesnik is a reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.
Sarah Nardi is a WGLT reporter. She previously worked for the Chicago Reader covering Arts & Culture.
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