It wasn't long after opening the Four Queens Wine Lounge in Illiopolis three years ago that Justin Ford began exploring the possibility of bringing another lounge to the area featuring Central Illinois-brewed beers and entertainment.
His travels took him to several area communities, including Maroa, where he spoke to a police officer in front of an empty storefront.
That chance conversation put him in touch with Mayor Aaron Meador, who put him in touch with the building’s owner, and the eventual opening of Full House Craft Beer and Gaming Lounge at 103 W. Main St. in December
As the name implies, the craft beers are an important part of Ford's business plan.
“I like the idea of knowing the people who make the beer,” Ford said, and spreading the word about the products they have to offer through tastings and events featuring the local brewers.
Full House features 12 taps with a constantly changing selection. It also offers your traditional domestic beers, wines and some liquor for those less adventurous patrons.
While the current layout is pretty cozy, Full House has been hosting a regular slate of solo musicians, mostly on Friday nights. Natu is performing from 9 to 11 tonight.
But Ford isn't just sitting at the table, afraid to up the ante.
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He is teaming up with his neighbor, The Buttered Bun, to begin offering lunch later this month. He said the Buttered Bun had the kitchen, but not a lot of seating. He had the seating, but no kitchen. It just made sense.
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He's also in the process of constructing the Back Porch at Full House. This covered area will provide a large outdoor venue for an estimated 80 patrons, expanding the entertainment options. He's testing the waters right now to determine interest in a Wednesday night corn hole league.
Information about the craft beer offering, gaming specials and the entertainment schedule can be found on the Full House Facebook page.
Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Ford said he is still on the lookout for other locations within a 25-mile radius of his Illiopolis home base to open a couple more lounges in the next three to five years.
It's likely they will share names associated with poker, but that isn't how the name for the original location came about. The four queens was a suggestion from a friend referring to the four queens in Ford's life – his wife, Kristi, and their three daughters. Along those same lines, he's hoping the name of his Maroa lounge becomes more synonymous with the place being a full house of happy patrons enjoying what the business has to offer.