Springfield’s Historic Commercial Street (C-Street) was the place to be in town 150 years ago when the railroad made its way to Springfield. It quickly became a bustling hub of railroad workers and locals who called the district home. Now, more than a century later, C-Street has once again come into its own — complete with local eateries, thriving businesses and can’t-miss festivals.
Coffee and More at Big Momma’s
Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar.
A day spent on C-Street should always start with a visit to Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar. With its excellent selection of coffee and espresso drinks as well as tasty sandwiches, soups and salads, Big Momma’s has quickly gained a reputation of being one of Springfield’s best coffee bars.
“This place happened almost by accident,” says Lyle Foster, owner of Big Momma’s. “I had fallen in love with C-Street and saw there was some interesting redevelopment opportunities occurring here. Now, we’re celebrating our ninth anniversary.”
Foster says when he opened the doors of Big Momma’s, C-Street businesses were in disrepair and the area had a bad reputation. Now, it’s known for being an eclectic area and a strong entrepreneurial community that functions very much like a mainstreet. The revitalization of C-Street is reflective of Springfield as a whole.
Lyle Foster, owner of Big Momma’s Coffee and Espresso Bar.
“Springfield is a great city for entrepreneurs that have strong, local support within the community,” adds Foster. “We are a very tight-knit community where many people go back generations.”
So after you’ve had your drink of choice and perhaps one of Big Momma’s famous grilled cheese sandwiches, the antique lovers in your group should head next door to one of the most interesting flea markets in the world, while the not-so-antique-lovers head down the street to Lindberg’s Tavern for a cold one (more on that in a bit).
Explore at Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase
Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase.
Robin Gilmore has traveled the world visiting tea rooms and flea markets and says she has never seen one like the one on C-Street that bears her namesake. And it’s no wonder.
The elaborate storefront is an indication of what you’re about to experience in Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase — and as you walk in, the sensory overload delivers.
An elaborate blown-glass sculpture hangs from the ceiling and every available space is filled with everything from home decor to clothing to antiques. “I wanted it to be something quite different and unique and somewhere I would want to go,” says Gilmore. “A feast for the eyes.”
Ms. Gilmore’s Tea Room and Vintage Suitcase.
Gilmore’s Tea Room, set within the intricate displays of the market, fills up from 11am-3pm with diners enjoying quiches, soups, sandwiches, salads and more. There’s also a dessert counter complete with lemon bars, truffels, macaroons, cookies, cakes and even ice cream.
“I wanted this to be something that’s not just a restaurant,” Gilmore adds. “I want people to come in and be entertained. I really wanted this to be a destination stop and that’s what it’s beginning to be.”
Having been open on C-Street only for a year, Gilmore also credits the success of Ms. Gilmore’s to the revitalization of the area.
“C-Street is just a neat little area in Springfield,” she says. “It’s an old-time vibe and the neighbors are wonderful.”
Lunch at Lindberg’s Tavern
Stepping into Lindberg’s Tavern on Springfield’s C-Street is one of those times when you wonder, “If only these walls could talk.” And if they could, they’d have quite a story to tell of the oldest tavern in the Queen City. Lindberg’s opened in 1870 and quickly became a one-stop-shop for railroad workers looking to kick back after long hauls on the line.
From Lindberg’s perch on the corner of Campbell Avenue and Commercial Street, rows of east- and west-bound train tracks are visible across the street, and it’s easy to imagine tired workers coming off the trains, dodging horse-drawn wagons to cross a dusty Commercial Street for a beer.
“We’ve really tried to embrace the history of this place but also add our own little flavor to it,” says co-owner Ryan Dock, who purchased Lindberg’s along with Eric Weiler in 2009.
Lindberg's serves up a new take on traditional bar food.
Dock and Weiler have added their own flavor to Lindberg’s through their new menu — one that features a fresh and daring take on traditional bar food. Burgers seared in duck fat, poutine (fries covered in gravy and cheese) and black-eyed pea hummus are all popular items.
Dock and Weiler have a passion for food and and for historic Commercial Street, which had a significant influence on what they chose to offer. Beers from White River Brewing Company and Mother's Brewing Company are used to make homemade condiments and Askinosie Chocolate is used in one of their most popular desserts.
“We just wanted to embrace C-Street by using ingredients for our food from local businesses,” he adds. “And we wanted to bring something to C-Street that was missing. it turns out that was a good, local burger and quality bar food.”
Make sure to visit these unique locations on your next visit to C-Street or create your own itinerary!