South Side Staple Looks to Leave Peoria, Citing Unfriendly Business Climate

Sep 21, 2019

Just two years after Ernie's Dairy Dream re-opened on Peoria's South Side, the business is looking to pick up and leave the city.

Ernie's opened at 2600 SW Jefferson in 1959. The business closed in 2014, but re-opened three years later when Dan Stambaugh and his wife Billie decided to revive the South Side staple.

Stambaugh said the ice cream and fast food restaurant was set to close for the season this month anyway, but closed a week early because their supplier ran short on breading.

But Stambaugh said a combination of the amusement tax for the Peoria Civic Center, the stormwater utility fee, and the new public safety pension fee have driven him to look for a new location outside city limits in the interim.

"There’s no end to it. We could move to the county and save," he said.

Stambaugh said the building is up for sale again. If the building doesn't sell over the winter, he said they will re-open at their Jefferson location next season, but he said they already have another location in mind outside Peoria.

Ernie's is perhaps best-known for its Castle Burger loose meat sandwich, as well as its fried chicken. It's one of a handful of restaurants open on Peoria's South Side. Lines of residents and people who work on the South Side often form outside the business' front windows during lunch time during the work week.