Famous Peoria steakhouse closing after 49 years in business

Local News

PEORIA,Ill. (WMBD) — UPDATE: Known for its sizzling steaks and 1960’s vibe, the owner of Sky Harbor Steak House is deciding to close his doors.

But those doors may not be closed very long.

The Steak House has been a Peoria staple since 1971. Welcoming customers with live music, disco balls, and retro Peoria memorabilia hanging on all the walls.

“I joined the company in 1978, I was a student at Bradley, I was also the chef at the Elks Club in Peoria. I did that for two years and decided I wanted to join the family business and they let me in,” said Owner/Manager Daryl Klusendorf.

Klusendorf grew up in Peoria and went to Richwoods High School. He played baseball at RHS before going to Southwest Missouri State University (now known as Missouri State University), and then moving back to Peoria. He then walked on to the team at BU.

His family operated the Lariat Club in the 1950’s after his parents moved to Peoria from Southern Minnesota. They sold it to the Kouris who are still operating the steak house.

Daryl said his dad invented the famous sizzling steaks.

But after decades of live music, laughter, and long-lasting memories, Klusendorf is ready for the next chapter of his life.

“I’ve been here since 78, almost 6 nights a week, I love what I do, but it’s time for a change,” Klusendorf said.

Daryl’s now 66-years-old and says he’s high-risk for COVID-19.

“We’ve been shut down since March 15th. With Parkinson’s, nothing is simple and everything takes more time,” Klusendorf said.

Now he wants time for himself. Enjoying life with family and playing live music.

He hopes somebody will buy Sky Harbor and continue its rich legacy.

Realtor Chris Rothan says that’s a strong possibility.

“We’ve had a lot of interest, yesterday we had the sign put up for the first time,” Rothan said.

Rothan says it’s bittersweet putting this property on the market because of his history with the restaurant.

“I’ve been coming to Sky Harbor since I was a little kid. I remember my parents taking me to the airport location when I was growing up, probably 5 or 6 years old,” Rothan said.

Klusendorf says the restaurant has actually been for sale since last September.

“We’ve been for sale for a period of time, but kind of a low-profile. When you’re a restaurant, it’s not appetizing to see we’re wanting outta here on a sign by the highway,” Klusendorf said.

Klusendorf says his favorite part of owning the restaurant has always been the people.

“Being a part of people’s weddings, special days, birthdays, memorials. I’ll miss working with the public making sure that part of the event of their special day was something they didn’t have to worry about and they’d have great memories,” Klusendorf said.

He says he’s grateful to have owned Sky Harbor, but that it’s been even more special because he’s had his family with him throughout it all.

“I’ve had the privilege of working side by side, with a parent, my mom, Ellen Klusendorf. She’d come around and play washboard and greet people from start to finish. She’s been the lifeblood, she’s not sure how she’ll handle not greeting people, but she’s not going to miss the nuts and bolts about worrying if customers are going to come in tonight or if the weather’s going to be right,” Klusendorf said. “Bittersweet in that respect as well. But Mrs. Klusendorf has been a restauranteur in central Illinois since 1956. That’s like Lou Gehrig.”

Daryl also wanted to thank all the customers, vendors, and family members and all the sacrifices they’ve made to bring magic to the restaurant.

A well-known steakhouse in Peoria has closed its doors for good under its current ownership.

The Sky Harbor Steak House at 1321 North Park Road across from Bradley Park has been listed for sale. According to the real estate listing, long-time owner Daryl Klusendorf has decided not to re-open the restaurant and is looking for someone else to take over the facility. He tells WMBD the decision to close after 49 years has to do with several things including his health.

The steakhouse got its name due to its original proximity to the Greater Peoria Regional Airport. The restaurant moved to its current location off Farmington Road in 1996. It has long been known for its nightclub and 1960’s type atmosphere.

Daryl’s parents Bill and Ellen Klusendorf originally opened the Sky Harbor in 1971. He took it over in 1991. It has been shut down since the beginning of the Stay at Home order in Illinois in late March.

If you’re interested in purchasing the property or continuing the business, contact Chris Rothan at 3098682841 or head to TheRothanGroup.com.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

COVID-19 IN CENTRAL ILLINOIS

National Unemployment Tracker

Trending Stories

Latest Local News

More Local News