ABOUT US

Mel and Sara Heffington

Our Mission

Here at the IL Riverdock Restaurant, we live to put a little GOOD into your day with everything we do. That means we work hard to provide the best homemade meals and friendly customer service around. We take our dishes seriously by choosing to use crisp local produce and premium ingredients. Extra attention is always put into everything we do. For example, our meats are specially seasoned and slow cooked for hours in our own pro smokehouse making every bite scrumptious and delicious for you.

Not only do we serve mouthwatering food, but we also provide a good relaxing environment. Our restaurant is located in the beautiful county of Calhoun, right off the river in Hardin, IL. No matter if you drive, come by boat, or fly in, the views are gorgeous. When you get here, you will experience a family-friendly setting where we take care of you. Please come visit us and become a part of our family.

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Flood of 1993

Opened in 1994

Restaurant fire 2015

Our History

In 1992, Melvin Heffington’s wife Ann and his sons talked him into opening a small restaurant. The plan was to continue running Mel’s Refrigeration, Heating, and Cooling and convert a part of the building into a restaurant. When Ann was diagnosed with cancer and passed away in 1993, the restaurant plan was put on hold.

Sara Malone and her family came into Mel’s life. Mel decided to continue his plans for the restaurant with the opening day set for the middle of July in 1993. Two weeks before opening day, the flood of 1993 swamped the city of Hardin, IL. Large efforts were made to save their restaurant, but the six foot levee holding back the Illinois River gave way. Within a few days there was five feet of river water inside the restaurant. Even with this setback Mel never gave up. He pursued his dream of opening a restaurant.

When the water completely receded, Mel was hard at work doing cleanup. The drywall was removed; the new carpet had to go; electrical wiring was replaced; and the wall that separated the restaurant and Mel’s Refrigeration, Heating, and Cooling was taken out. At this point Mel said, “Let’s make it all a restaurant and I’ll find another place for the refrigeration business.”  The rest of 1993 was dedicated to the construction of the restaurant.

On January 19, 1994, the Illinois Riverdock Restaurant officially opened their doors. Mel and Sara got married in March. Together they happily ran their business until their restaurant caught fire in 2015. Just like before, that did not stop them. Mel and Sara rebuilt the restaurant and continued running their business in 2016.

When Mel turned 75 years old, he started thinking about retirement. In 2017, Mel sold his share of the restaurant to Sara. Do not worry, the Riverdock still uses all of Mel’s recipes for all of their dishes, and beverages are still made with purified water. Mel still comes in to eat and makes suggestions.

Meet Riverdock's Family

Sara Heffington

Sara Heffington
General Manager

Gail Giberson

Gail Giberson
Technical Manager

Cullen King

Cullen King
Kitchen Manager

Lauren King

Lauren King
Floor Manager

Skylar Giberson

Skylar Giberson
Jr. Hostess

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