Barefoot Restaurant In Hardin Set to Return

By Benjamin Cox on April 15, 2022 at 5:24pm

The new location of the Barefoot Restaurant at 106 Water Street in Hardin was once home of Illini Medical Associates. (Photo Courtesy of The Barefoot Restaurant Facebook Page)

Calhoun County’s most notable eatery will be making a return soon.

Final preparations are being made for the Barefoot Restaurant at a new location. The famed Illinois River eatery located north of Hardin on Illinois Route 100 closed in 2019 after historic flooding.

The Barefoot was originally called Melody Trail Harbor and was established in 1958. Later it was named The Barefoot because of boaters coming right off the river and eating barefooted and in their swimsuits. The original building was destroyed in the 1973 flood, and a larger, elevated building was built on the ruins of the old one that same year. The building continued to battle closures off and on due to the river’s flooding over the next 40 years.

Photo of the original Barefoot Restaurant along the banks of the Illinois River circa 1973. (Barefoot Restaurant Facebook Page)

Riverbender reports that Brian Matthews and Kelly & Phil Sievers have purchased the namesake, recipes, and menu from previous owner Judy Herter. The restaurant will also be making a move out of the flood plain into the former Illini Medical Building in Hardin at 106 Water Street.

Known for its fish, fried chicken, and immaculate view of the Illinois River, the new owners are making some additions to the new location to accommodate a larger dining area and kitchen.

According to Riverbender, a grand opening is expected within the next few weeks.