Since the beginning of the year, both the McDonald’s Family Restaurant and Livengood’s Grille and Pub in Fairbury have closed their doors for good. While the loss of these businesses is felt among community members, Fairbury City Superintendent Brett Ashburn takes comfort in the fact that new businesses are opening, too.
    “When you’re in a city, you’re always going to have instances where people retire and the business closes, but it’s a good sign to see other businesses taking an interest,” he said. “Fairbury is a well-established community that maintains well. The Fairbury American Legion Speedway is a big proponent to that, it brings in a lot of outsiders during the summer months and helps the community thrive.”
     According to Ashburn, the McDonald’s Family Restaurant closed a few weeks ago. Although the business location may have some prospective buyers, Ashburn won’t really know anything more until there is a signed agreement and a new owner comes to change things over with the city.
    “All I can say about McDonald’s Family Restaurant is that the business has closed and the building is on the market with some prospective buyers,” Ashburn said.
    Another building on the market is the former Livengood’s Pub, which was formerly known for years as Benchwarmer’s Pub, located at 103 W. Locust St.
    “The family tried a new start-up business, but unfortunately it just didn’t work out for them,” Ashburn said. “So, they had to go ahead and throw in the towel. There is talk around town that there is an interested buyer from Gibson City, but I’m not sure where things stand with that at this time.”
    Jeff Gutwein, owner of Gutwein Quality Doors at 415 W. Oak St., in Fairbury, is having an open house and ribbon cutting for the business’ new location on Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Although the location is new, the business itself has been well-established in the area at the original location in rural Forrest since 2001.
    “They were looking for a place to expand and they found the lot out along Route 24, which worked for them and works well for the city,” Ashburn said.
    Gutwein said a fire at the Forrest facility in September of 2016 forced he and his sons to move their business.
    “We had been thinking about expanding the business for a while, but when it caught fire, we knew we had even more of a reason to find a new place,” Gutwein said. “The business was located at my home, on a farmstead two miles north of Forrest and about a half-mile west.
    “Most people knew where we were at, but new customers were sometimes intimidated about driving in the country and, coupled with the growth of what we’re offering, it just made it a lot nicer for the customer to be able to stop here in Fairbury.”
    John Traub sold Gutwein and his family the land on Route 24 to build a new facility from the ground up. Work began on the new location last spring and took most of the summer to complete. The business was moved and re-opened in Fairbury in the middle of December.
    “When I first started this company, I was looking for something I could do with my boys and it seemed like there wasn’t anyone selling doors and offering door services. So, it started out with just my oldest son and me because the others were too young. Eventually, the business grew and today we’re offering a number of different doors and services.”
    Today, the business employs Jeff, his five sons, a full-time employee, two part-time employees and a part-time secretary.
    “Since we moved out here, things have been going really well,” Gutwein said. “We have a lot more people stopping in and were thankful for that. But we’ve also been able to expand what we offer as a business because our customers have inquired about it. Generally speaking, as customers inquire and request things, we look into them.”
    Gutwein said they chose Fairbury because of their appreciation for the community and the vehicle traffic on Route 24.
    “It’s been a good fit for us thus far. This side of town is nice because people are constantly driving through it,” Gutwein said. “Fairbury is a nice town, a nice community. And Mr. Traub was nice enough to sell us some ground.”
    A new Mexican restaurant called Dos Fuentes opened on April 4 at the former Pizza by Marchelloni location, 1005 W. Oak St.
    “It’s been quite busy over there recently,” Ashburn said. “I think the restaurant is a good change of pace for the community. It’s a different style of food from the burgers and pizza that we’re used to and I believe it has the potential to do well here.”
    So far, Ashburn said community members are excited about the new restaurant.
    “If you go there around 6 p.m., there isn’t very many parking spots available. So, people have been excited to get out there and try it and a lot of people have been going back. I’ve heard nothing but good things for that. So, it’s a good change of pace for this community.”
    What could the future of Fairbury hold? Ashburn said some people have started looking into turning their homes into Airbnbs. Airbnb is an American company that operates an online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging.
    “We’ve had interest in people starting Airbnbs to accommodate people who want to come into Fairbury and have a place to stay for a couple days or the weekend,” Ashburn said. “That is something that is on the forefront for the city.
    “People have shown interest in buying properties and turn it into an Airbnb so that people have a place to stay. There are places to stay outside of town, but there’s nothing in the city. So, we would love to see people be able to have options to come and stay in the city.”