beast southern kitchen & bbq in columbia, illinois photo by michelle volansky

Beast Southern Kitchen & BBQ in Columbia, Illinois, is closing permanently today

Beast Southern Kitchen & BBQ is closing its doors in Columbia, Illinois, after one final lunch service today, May 13.

Chef-owner David Sandusky announced the closure in a video posted to Facebook on May 12. Sandusky said hiring has been an uphill struggle since the pandemic, and that’s been an obstacle to achieving consistency. “It's been very difficult,” he said.

He went on to pay tribute to the Beast team in Columbia. “We worked our asses off. My management team has worked tirelessly to make this work. I haven't taken a day off in the last couple of years. My staff underneath the management team has worked extremely hard to make this work.” Ultimately, however, Sandusky has felt the need to call time on the Columbia location. “We wish that things were different,” he said.

Beast Southern Kitchen & BBQ opened in late 2020, at a time when pandemic regulations still prohibited indoor dining. In spite of those challenges, the restaurant made an immediate impact, winning the Best New Restaurant award in the 2021 Sauce Readers’ Choice Awards ahead of competition like The Lucky Accomplice and Perennial on Lockwood.

The circumstances and longevity of the pandemic would ultimately prove to be a drag on the Columbia location’s viability, but Sandusky stood by the decision to launch the restaurant when he did. “I'm absolutely proud of what we've accomplished. We've accomplished a lot of things and we've learned a ton and so for those reasons I don't regret doing it,” he said. “I regret losing money.”

Sandusky said the Beast team will now focus its attention on several priorities, including expanding the Beast food truck’s program and “tightening things up” at its other locations, Beast Craft BBQ Co. in Belleville and Beast Butcher & Block in the Grove. “We're taking the time to focus on our training and our policy and procedures and getting back to pre-pandemic places as far as how we operate, which will be less chaotic, more proactive, and more accountable,” he said. He also suggested there are other initiatives in the works for BEAST that he’s currently keeping under wraps.

Beast Southern Kitchen & BBQ will close after its final lunch service, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Friday, May 13.