Mahomet residents now have new place to nosh

MAHOMET – JT Walker's Restaurant and Sports Bar on Main Street in Mahomet is now open.

The staff at JT Walker's will include about 40 employees. Executive Chef Mark Bradford's experience includes running the Little Bear saloon and restaurant in Evergreen, Colo. He also was the youngest executive chef for the Denver Press Club from 2005 to 2006.

Owner Justin Taylor's girlfriend, April Vedder, will be one of the waitresses on the night shift. During the day, Vedder, who has 10 years of customer-service experience, will pursue a career in massage therapy.

"Justin is going to be here nights, so I figure it's the only way I'm going to see him," Vedder said with a laugh.

Vedder had never been to Mahomet before Taylor decided to open a restaurant here with support from his parents, Nick and Renee Taylor. When she saw the century-old building that once housed the Old Town Gallery and Main Street Mercantile, she fell in love.

Initially, Taylor wanted to name the restaurant Orange 77. The name had several meanings for this Mahomet native. Not only does he drive an orange '77 Corvette, but orange is also th color of the Bulldogs, and 1977 is the only year the Mahomet-Seymour High School football team has won a championship.

"It might be a name for something in the future, but not this place," Justin said of the night-club-type name.

Justin's mom, Renee, helped him out with a new name, suggesting JT Walker's because Justin's middle name is Walker. She felt it would appeal to both the younger and older crowds.

"After throwing it around a bit, everyone seemed to like it," Justin Taylor said.

JT Walker's will feature two levels. Downstairs, a restaurant will offer dining for the entire family with an older, early saloon-type feel, dark woods and a fireplace.

Several of the decorations in the restaurant come from Inspirations, the new home-decor shop opened across the street by Mary Manthei-Everhart, former owner of Main Street Mercantile.

"It will have a nice, homey feel for everyone to come in and enjoy," Taylor said.

The restaurant will be open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Upstairs, the Dog Pound Sports Bar will offer a lounge area for customers from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends.

The main menu, which includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups and specials, will be available in the restaurant and bar daily until 11 p.m. A late-night menu with appetizers and desserts will be served from 4 to 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. daily. The dinner menu, which includes steaks, seafood and pasta, will be served in the restaurant only.

To get a sneak peek of the menus before the grand opening, visit www.jtwalkers.com.

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