201 Broadway St, Mt Vernon, IL 62864
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.- 9 p.m. Closed Sunday
Owner of Autoplex of Mt. Vernon, Jeremy Sneed’s interest was piqued when the restaurant next to his business, The Silver Streak, came up for sale. Opening a restaurant was never a lifelong plan for Sneed, but he saw an opportunity unfold and decided to purchase. After six months of preparation, Trackside Bar & Grill opened and has gained in popularity and success ever since. Over the last four years, Trackside has been packed with familiar faces each week. Regular customers partake in ‘Wing Wednesdays’ or make it their normal stop for a weekend dinner. Many visitors to Mt. Vernon enjoy eating at Trackside as a recommendation from the hotel they have stayed at. “The hotels are good word of mouth. They will drive all the way across town to eat here. They aren’t from here and they want something different from chain food,” Sneed explains.
Prior to opening, Sneed sat down with his kitchen manager and grill cook to create the menu. It was a short process, as his kitchen staff have been in the restaurant business for many years. Trackside boasts its original kitchen staff since opening in 2015. Grill cook, Bill Zinke, grilled for Bonanza when it was open in Mt. Vernon. Between cooks, servers, and bartenders, most employees are part time, but the restaurant does not see much staff turnover. For Sneed, the good staff at Trackside is what makes the restaurant run smoothly. Everything is cooked to order, nothing is pre-cooked. “When you come in, it probably takes longer to get your food than at other places, but when it comes out it’s fresh,” he expands. Trackside is always hiring if the right person comes along!
According to Sneed, the secret to perfecting the best steak simply comes from buying a good product. “We usually buy the best grade we can get, which costs a little more, but we don’t get very many complaints. You don’t have to worry about getting tough meat and it makes it a little easier on the kitchen guys, too. It’s a lot easier to make a good product taste good, than trying to make something out of a cheap product,” Sneed explains. Their ribeye is the most common cut of steak ordered at Trackside. Second most popular would be a tie between New York Strip or filets.
Trackside can best be described as an American restaurant. Besides steak, they are widely known for their catfish. “We sell tons and tons of catfish. Catfish chunks, they cut the filets up into little chunks and hand bread it all,” Sneed mentions. Their burgers and salad bar are also popular among customers. Sneed believes the restaurant’s atmosphere is for everybody. “You can come if you’ve been outside working all day or for a night out on the town,” he comments.
A unique special Trackside has offered in the past, the breakfast burger, includes a burger with bacon, egg, and cheese on a donut bun. They offer tacos once a month on Mondays, 10 oz strips on Tuesdays, wing specials on Wednesdays, and 2 Ribeye’s with 2 sides for $36 on Thursday nights. Lunch and weekend specials always vary, depending on what the cook wants to feature that day. Trackside’s surf and turf includes an in-house made marinade, unique to the restaurant, that covers shrimp and chicken breast. In the past, on election Tuesdays, they have promoted an All-American Day style meal with fried chicken and homemade apple pies. These fun specials keep people coming through the doors of Trackside again and again.
When asked why it is important to eat local, Sneed notes that it is critical to support any local business, as these organizations are the ones donating and helping the community. “If anybody is looking for anything, they hit the local businesses. They are always there in time of need,” Sneed comments. Supporting local business means supporting your community.
In January, Trackside plans to open an interstate location where Lonestar Steakhouse was previously located, on Potomac Blvd. The restaurant will have a different name and menu than Trackside and looks forward to serving Mt. Vernon very soon!