CLINTON — The Frontier Again will open its doors this month, completing the trifecta Clinton residents used to enjoy at the corner of U.S. 30 and Valley West Court — restaurant, bar and hotel.
Remington’s bar, The Frontier and the Best Western Motor Inn at 2300 Lincoln Way closed in October 2010. Ashford University bought the motel and turned it into student housing.
The building sat empty from 2014 to 2018, when it reopened as Econo Lodge.
Rita Walton, who operates the Main Avenue Pub in the Lyons District, agreed to reopen Remington’s in the former Best Western — now Quality Inn —when asked to do so last summer.
“I actually started working here at 14,” said Walton from The Frontier dining room in July. Now in her 50s, she’s back where she started.
“We opened the bar on June 7, and we’ve been open every day since,” Walton said.
About the same time, Walton suggested that Brent Smith reopen The Frontier next to Remington’s, returning the site to what it was when the two were teenagers.
Cousins Restaurant closed at that location after the coronavirus pandemic killed business. “The restaurant is pretty much turnkey,” Smith said in July.
When Walton suggested that Smith open the restaurant next to Remington’s, she was kind of joking, Smith said.
But Smith visited a Clinton history Facebook page and noticed that The Frontier and its fish fry kept popping up.
Smith thought, “Remington’s is back. Why not bring back The Frontier?”
Smith looked into what he would need to bring The Frontier back to life. He was no stranger to the business. He’d been director of operations for a bar and grill in Rock Island, Illinois, he said.
With financial means set up, Smith began updating equipment and remodeling the dining room.”We just passed the inspection this morning,” Smith said Thursday. Opening day is set for Monday, Sept. 21.
The restaurant’s remodel was put on hold in August after a severe storm left thousands of Clinton residents without power.
“We literally stopped what we were doing with the remodel,” Smith said. He and Frontier Again co-owner, Beth Bird, spent about $15,000 from their private accounts to provide meals for people who were without power.
“We opened up our doors [and] did free meals for the whole city,” Smith said. “We fed people during that whole week. We weren’t selling food, so the health department couldn’t stop us,” he said.
“We also provided hotel rooms for a few people who couldn’t afford hotel rooms.”
Housed in the Quality Inn at 2300 Lincoln Way, Remington’s and the Frontier will provide food, drink and dining space to people who stay at the hotel. Putting the three business back in play pulls at the heartstrings of Clinton residents who remember the originals.
“We want to restore the pride of Clinton,” said Quality Inn General Manager Veronique Janssens in July.
The fish fries and Sunday buffets are remembered fondly by people who grew up here. “This place used to be huge,” said Walton. “There was a line from here all the way down the hallway to get the fish fry.”
“I lived up in the Low Moor area most of my life,” said Smith. “I worked at the Frontier back when I was 15, as a dish guy and busing tables.”
“My family grew up eating here,” he said. He hopes The Frontier Again will become the family dining destination for Clinton resident — again.