The Railyard, an outdoor food venue based around shipping containers, opened Nov. 3, two years after plans were announced to bring the unique concept to Springfield. The property at 2442 S. Sixth St. is just north of the newly constructed overpass on South Sixth Street, part of the Springfield Rail Improvements Projects.

Four shipping containers are situated around a 3,000-square-foot outdoor dining space, which includes outdoor heaters and fire pits. El Taco Guapo is a taqueria with a menu similar to the restaurant by the same name at Lake Springfield Marina. Ernie’s Texas BBQ features Texas-style barbecue with sides such as cowboy beans, potato salad, coleslaw and mac ‘n cheese, while Tare Ramen has Japanese options including Ramen bowls, sushi and pot stickers. The fourth container is a patio bar offering beer and wine, along with margaritas.

click to enlarge The Railyard opens Nov. 3
The brick-and-mortar building on site has now been remodeled as Zuba’s Café and Creamery with coffee, pastries, sandwiches and ice cream. The building provides a limited amount of indoor seating, plus restrooms.

Initially announced in 2021, there have been some adjustments to the original plans. “We were planning on using the 5 Flavors Catering kitchen, but were unable to do so once the business was sold,” said owner Kirk Jefferis, a commercial real estate developer who also owns several buildings to the north.

“We ended up building our own commercial kitchen in one of my buildings about a block away,” said Jefferis. The barbecue meats and Ramen noodles are cooked on-site but broths, sides and other dishes are prepared in the kitchen.

Jefferis has teamed up with Dave Matthews, a California transplant with a variety of business venture experiences. Matthews currently operates El Taco Guapo at Lake Springfield Marina and was previously involved in 5 Flavors Catering, Finley’s Tap House and Cooper’s Hawk Winery.

Prior to Jefferis’ acquisition of the property, a fire in 2020 destroyed all but one of the buildings on the site. The site has been home to various steakhouses over the years, beginning with the Black Angus in 1953 and later Jim’s Steak House, Gallagher’s and Charlie R’s. The building was vacant for several years beginning in 2016 and in early 2000 Chip Kennedy began renovations, intending to open a new steakhouse at the site. An extensive fire in March 2000 ended those plans, and Jefferis purchased the property later that year.

The cafe will be open seven days a week from 7 a.m.-2 p.m., although Jefferis said the cafe will be closed Nov. 6-7 to allow time for adjustments following the opening weekend. The shipping container eateries are open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

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