HARRISBURG -- Entering Harrisburg's newest locally-owned restaurant, Southern Outlaws Bar and Grill, is visually like taking a step back in time.
Co-owned by Steve Reese and Derek Downs, the restaurant is filled with memorabilia from 1920s Harrisburg and Saline County, with poster-sized reproductions of news headlines featuring gangsters Charlie Birger and the Shelton Brothers Gang.
Other Prohibition-themed visuals, like wanted posters and replica firearms, a likeness of Al Capone and bullet holes are a part of the restaurant's theme.
"This is something we thought would work well for the Harrisburg area," Reese said.
The menu features "Tommy gun nachos" in the appetizers or "Mama Shelton's Kitchen Delights," a selection of top choice entrees named after members of the Shelton Gang.
Reese said he and Downs both have a significant interest in southern Illinois' own drama from the Roaring '20s. Downs is from Fairfield in Wayne County, which was the home county of the Shelton Gang. As many Saline County residents know, the Sheltons were the chief bootlegging rival to Saline County's own Charlie Birger, who virtually ran Harrisburg. Both Birger's gang and the Shelton Gang expanded into Williamson County, fueling a violent series of gang-related killings, bombings and other attacks.
In addition to food and drinks, the restaurant has novels from Ruthie Shelton and Kevin Corley and related posters for sale.
Reese said the restaurant has benefited from the support of both those connected to the region's gangster history and local residents.
"We love hearing all the stories and collecting memorabilia from the days gone by, but most importantly we love serving the best fresh food with unique twists that we can," Reese said.