URBANA – Montana Mike's Steakhouse plans to open in Urbana this spring in the building that formerly housed Ned Kelly's Steakhouse and The Timbers restaurant.
Montana Mike's is a franchise steakhouse that prides itself on satisfying big appetites for good value, said Greg Schmidtknecht, who will co-own the restaurant with John Frenz.
The two already operate Montana Mike's locations at 3215 N. Vermilion St., Danville, and in Vincennes, Ind.
Schmidtknecht said he thought the Urbana location at 1601 N. Cunningham Ave. would work well.
"The person who owned the building, Paul Tatman, came to our restaurant in Danville. Paul liked the concept ... and said, 'Urbana would be a good fit for you and your organization.' We looked at the town and said, 'You're right.'"
The restaurant will probably open in 60 to 90 days and will hire about 90, Schmidtknecht said. He and Frenz are taking applications for management positions, but not yet accepting applications for hourly jobs.
Schmidtknecht described Montana Mike's as "a reasonably priced steakhouse with large portions. We take pride that everything is fresh and homemade." Lunches are typically in the $6 price range, while dinners run about $12, he said.
Featured items include a 22-ounce sirloin, a 16-ounce ribeye and "mountain topper chicken," an 8-ounce chicken breast covered with cheese and mushrooms.
Schmidtknecht said he realizes Montana Mike's must compete with other steakhouses in the area.
"We know the competition is strong and every player in the United States is currently here," he said. "We don't want to cause any damage to them. Our niche is here in Urbana. We got the building at a fair price, and we plan to give good service and good food."
He said Montana Mike's intends to differentiate itself "by the portions and the size that we give."
"We know we can make money by volume if we take care of the customer," he said. "We're not right on the interstate, we're not downtown, and we're not off North Prospect (Avenue) where everyone goes. We have to give them more if they come our way."
Frenz and Schmidtknecht have been in the restaurant business for 30 years, with concepts including buffets and family sit-down restaurants. The Urbana location will seat 205.
The Montana Mike's concept is owned by Stockade Companies of Taylor, Texas. It originated in 1998 and has locations in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.
The Urbana location was the home of the Sea Merchant restaurant for 17 years. It became Ned Kelly's, an Australian-style steakhouse, in 1993. That closed in December 2006, and The Timbers restaurant occupied the space until August.
It was succeeded briefly by Nikki Marie's restaurant.