I've been to SCHEELS, and knew that somewhere in the back of my mind the store served soda, coffee and fudge. What I didn't know is that Ginna's Café & Coffee at SCHEELS offers a full menu. Indeed, I visited Ginna's Café & Coffee with a group of friends that goes out for chili once a month. Even within our group, there was confusion when the decision was made to go to SCHEELS for chili. Some thought we were to dine at Legacy Pointe. So, with ground having been broken for the SCHEELS Sports Park at Legacy Pointe, it seemed appropriate to get the word out that SCHEELS is more than just sporting goods.

Ginna's Café & Coffee is named after the grandmother of SCHEELS' CEO, Steve M. Scheel. It's not fancy. The café is separated from the store by a western-inspired log frame, and diners order and pay at the counter. There are plenty of tables and everything is nicely spaced out. There were three friendly staff members that assembled our dishes and manned the register. They were well-coordinated.

I did have trouble finding the menu online prior to our visit. I'll never understand why restaurants won't make it easy for people to find their menu. That was my only complaint about the overall dining experience.

Naturally, we each started with a bowl of chili. Right off the bat, we were all very surprised at how affordable it was. At $3.99 a bowl, Ginna's prices its chili about half as much as some others in town (who also charge you 75 cents for a small serving of raw onion). Overall, the menu was quite reasonable for what's offered.

The group usually seeks out tavern chili, so there was some debate about Ginna's version, which didn't have the grease and was more tomato-based. Personally, that's how I like chili. I found it satisfying but not overly exciting. Overall comments from the other group members included:

• More spice might mitigate the "tomatoey" nature
• Good flavor and right amount of beans
• I like the color. Could use more spice and kick
• Not a lot of spice. Would like some more heartiness

The rest of Ginna's menu consists of salads, wraps and sandwiches. All sandwiches are served a la carte but can be made into a combo for an additional price for a side and drink.

I went for the Outdoorsman, made with four meats, two cheeses, tomato, red onions, banana and green peppers, lettuce and chipotle mayo ($9.99). I opted to go with toasted sourdough. This was a very filling sandwich that was packed with flavor. In retrospect, I should have split it with one of the others. I would definitely order it again.

Another of our group went for the BLT ($7.99). It was the traditional BLT, a sandwich that a restaurant can easily screw up. Thankfully, Ginna's didn't. The bacon was thick-cut and reported to be at the Goldilocks point – enough of the fat had rendered out and was still pliable with a nice meatiness. Both pieces of bread were slathered with mayo and the ratio of lettuce, tomato and bacon were appropriate. I noted that everything was layered correctly with the bacon in the middle so that its texture helps stop the lettuce and tomato from sliding all over the place.

Two others decided to split the chicken sandwich ($8.99). It was a grilled cheese sandwich (provolone, American, pepper jack and Swiss) on parmesan-crusted garlic sourdough with a piece of grilled chicken breast. They commented that they couldn't detect much of the garlic, but the bread was hearty with a decent crust. They both said that the cheese blend (which looked nice and gooey) helped amp up what otherwise is usually a pretty bland sandwich.

Our final member selected the Italiano ($8.99), pepperoni, ham and pastrami with lettuce and tomatoes topped with melted provolone and parmesan served on a hoagie bun and drizzled with Italian dressing. I was surprised to see pastrami on an Italian sandwich given that it is a Jewish-American creation with roots extending back to Romania. Nonetheless, he found the combination of such disparate meats to be quite satisfactory. He also appreciated that the sandwich was not drowning in dressing and that the combination of parmesan and provolone added some nice flavor notes to help round things out.

We were all happy to have finally learned about Gina's Café & Coffee. And, with the sports park finally off the ground, I'm sure others will soon discover that SCHEELS doesn't just sell sporting goods.

Address: 3801 South MacArthur Blvd., Springfield

Phone: 217-726-6330

Website: scheels.com

Hours: Monday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m to 6 p.m.

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