Nearly a century ago, the first roadside produce stand was opened by patriarch Alvin O. Eckert. Now the Eckert enterprise encompasses three locations, with something for families and the public to enjoy year round.
The Grand Opening Celebration of the new Belleville store was held July 6, showcasing the $5 million expansion, and helping the orchard to celebrate its 100th anniversary, now operated by the family’s sixth and seventh generation. Around 45 family members traveled to Belleville to participate in the ribbon cutting, some from as far away as China.
The newly added 22,000 square feet provides more space for local produce and meats, specialty food and a large bakery and a 1,200-square-foot cooking and workshop classroom.
Chris Eckert, president of Eckert’s, Inc. said the project went well from start to finish, and working with the Holland team was a pleasure.
“Holland had many suggestions that helped us reduce costs, and the entire building process went quite smoothly,” Eckert said. “If we did have a concern, the team quickly responded.”
“This new facility will enable us to provide the public with wonderful food, fun and family memories,” Eckert’s said. “Our family plans to carry on the tradition for generations to come.” expanding our year-round programs and offerings as a specialty grocer of quality, locally-grown products.”
The second phase of the construction project is currently underway, including the renovation and expansion of the existing Eckert’s Country Restaurant, doubling its capacity and adding curb-side meal pick-up service. Additional parking and a new outdoor plaza space, designed for seasonal gatherings will welcome visitors to the Eckert’s experience.
Eckert’s Country Store and Farms is the largest family-owned and operated “pick-your-own” orchard in the United States. The Eckert family owns and operates farming, entertainment and retail entities in Belleville, Grafton and Millstadt in Southwestern Illinois. For a century, Eckert’s has served the bi-state region as a local source for agricultural products and Christmas trees during the growing season, also offering specialty foods, meats, wine and cheese selections, and a range of classes, including cooking and wine classes for adults, and children’s activities for families throughout the year. For more information, visit www.eckerts.com.