Red Wheel East restaurant closing Sunday

The Red Wheel East restaurant will close for business at 3 p.m. Sunday, June 16.

RANTOUL — Rantoul’s Red Wheel East restaurant will close its doors Sunday — about a year after it opened.

Owner Benny Veseli said difficulty finding employees was the primary reason for the decision to close. He said business at the eatery, located in the Rantoul Plaza, started out good but had tapered off in recent months.

Slow business volume means fewer tips for waitresses.  

“It’s hard to get help anymore,” Veseli said. “It’s not as busy as” his other Red Wheel restaurant located on the west side. “It’s pretty slow.”

He said the west-side restaurant benefits from its location near the interstate and several hotels, and he hasn’t had any problem hiring and retaining help there.

Veseli signed a five-year lease to operate the east-side restaurant in 2018. He said he hopes to find someone else to go into the building.

Rantoul Plaza owner David Meyer said he did not want to comment on Veseli’s situation. He said Veseli had not notified him of his plans to close, although plaza manager Ron Minch had.

The restaurant will remain open until 3 p.m. Sunday.

A sign on the front door of Red Wheel East said its staff would be joining staff at the west-side restaurant.

Start-up of Red Wheel East had its share of controversy when Veseli opened the restaurant following the announced plans by a Rantoul couple — Duane and Jennifer Smith — to operate it.

The Smiths had made plans to buy the business from Larry and Jessy Dzeladini, who had run it for several years as Family Table restaurant, after Minch had approached them about running it.

The Smiths applied for a $55,000 loan from the village of Rantoul revolving loan fund.

However, plaza owner Meyer said he was never notified the Smiths wanted to buy the business and offered it to Veseli, who agreed.

The turn of events left some in the village upset. It is not known if that contributed to the restaurant’s lack of business.

Other business closes

Veseli is also having to deal with the closure of another business he owns. Logan’s Pub — known by many as the former Hitchin’ Post — on South Century Boulevard closed recently.  

Isak Besiri of De Land, who operates a Red Wheel restaurant in Monticello, was buying the Logan’s Pub building from Veseli on contract but opted out recently.

“I didn’t see it coming because he didn’t tell me,” Veseli said. “He seemed to do good, but I think (the village) didn’t renew his license because he had to repair the roof. He failed inspection.”

Scott Morgan, village of Rantoul building safety manager, confirmed Veseli’s statement. He said the village did a 2019 liquor license inspection that found a leaking roof “as well as numerous interior violations.”

As a result of Besiri not remedying the problems, he lost his liquor license.

Veseli said he needs to fix the roof and find someone for that property as well.

Veseli said he needs to fix the roof and find someone for that property as well.