A sunset years in the making

Five years ago, Peter and Julie Ingold repeatedly drove by the nearly 150-year-old building located at 11604 Bluff Road in Columbia. 

Each time they passed it, they wondered what the future would hold for the property known as the Schneider-Schlemmer farmstead.

So, the Columbia couple bought the property with another couple.

Following years of preparation, they held the grand opening on Father’s Day weekend for Sunset Overlook, the pub they created on the property that Columbia designated a historic landmark in 2013. 

The establishment is a new venture for the couple, who will soon be retiring. 

“We have 70 years of middle management in corporate America,” Julie said. “We don’t have a food background. We just have a passion. We’re foodies. We used to travel on day outings to find places like this.”

Peter said the lack of a place like Sunset Overlook in Columbia added to their desire to open the pub.

“We didn’t want it to be just another restaurant or bar in Columbia,” he said. “We wanted it to be a place where we can bring people from South County and all around in these small towns and make it a place where people can come, sit down and watch the sunset and be happy.” 

Although they have owned the property for five years, the work on Sunset Overlook did not begin in earnest until approximately three years ago, when the Ingolds became sole owners of the property. 

The first of those three years was spent manicuring the grounds around the building. The next year, the couple gutted the house. Finally, in the most recent year, they began what Peter called the “full press” to open Sunset Overlook. 

The name came about naturally, as Peter and Julie noticed the defining feature of the location after being there in the evening during the years they were preparing the pub.

“The name’s obvious if you’re here at sunset,” Julie said.

“We would run down here to see the sunset,” Peter added. “You could feel when it was going to be a good sunset. It became the thing – the sunset.”

Approximately 1,000 people had a chance to experience that much ballyhooed sunset during the three-day grand opening. 

The event featured live acoustic bands on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and a food truck. Both will be staples of the restaurant, as the owners said they plan to schedule live music for the weekends.

There will also be at least one food truck available Thursday through Sunday. 

The food trucks will be fixtures because the menu at Sunset Overlook is small, including only a few items like hot pretzels. Eventually, it will expand to include such items as open faced, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, but it will remain relatively small.

“We wanted to go slow on the food,” Peter explained. “We wanted to focus on the view, the spirits and the people, especially since we’ve never been in the restaurant business. We didn’t want to jump out and try all this stuff and fail.”

Although it does not have a large menu, Sunset Overlook does boast a variety of drinks, including several wines sold by the bottle. 

“We started off wanting to focus on making sure we had a good beer selection and a good wine selection,” Peter said. “We really wanted to focus on quality. So our starting lineup, so to speak, is good. It’s not your low-end stuff. But it’s not so high-end you’re going to go ‘ew, the prices.’”

While the drink selection is a draw of Sunset Overlook, Peter said the best part is the location and ambience.

“When we set out to do this we set out to create a gathering place, a place that your family and your friends want to come together at,” he said. “It seems to already have that feel to it. We want to make sure whatever your age, whatever your background is we can make you smile, have a good time and enjoy the sunset.”

Julie agreed with that assessment.

“It’s more of a destination than a restaurant or a bar,” she noted. “We have several hashtags but my favorite one is ‘every sunset has a story.’ And that’s what it’s about. People are creating memories here.”

Sunset Overlook is open  Monday from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m. 

For more information, visit the establishment’s Facebook page or call 281-7867.

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James Moss

James is an alumni of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville where he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in mass communications and applied communications studies. While in school, he interned at two newspapers and worked at a local grocery store to pay for his education. When not working for the Republic-Times, he enjoys watching movies, reading, playing video games and spending time with his friends.
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