You Gotta Eat: Kemp 208 ‘literally’ has all the comforts of home

Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 10:09 PM CDT
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MORTON (25News Now) - What used to be someone’s house on Main Street in Morton is now a restaurant.

This week, Edgar Sandoval and photojournalist Andrew Best ventured to Kemp 208, which has a rustic American menu that’s constantly evolving.

Cathy Kemp had about two decades of food and beverage experience when the old Maxines on Main closed.

“My best friend said, ‘You should look at that’ and I was like ‘It’s not really on my radar, I don’t know.’”

Kemp did more than look. She bought it, and eight years later, Kemp 208 is going strong.

The place was built around 1918. It originally was a home.

“I’ve had people come in here that lived here, and they’ll be like, ‘Can I go up and see my bedroom?’”

There’s also a tub in the restaurant’s bathroom.

“Isn’t it cool? We do have people that get in there randomly to take pictures. With their shoes on. I find footprints in the tub. They’ll have group pictures that they post in the bathtub. I have not had anybody take a bath yet in there, thank goodness.”

Edgar Sandoval sits in a tub that's in the bathroom at Kemp 208 in Normal.
Edgar Sandoval sits in a tub that's in the bathroom at Kemp 208 in Normal.(25News Now)

Kemp 208 celebrates food as art and takes pride in finding great combinations of flavors.

Andrew had the bison tacos, Spanish sweet heat-braised bison with yellow saffron rice and all the fixings.

“So, it’s definitely a little bit tougher than what you’d consider beef to be, but it’s still really, really flavorful,” said Andrew.

Bison tacos at Kemp 208 in Morton
Bison tacos at Kemp 208 in Morton(25News Now)

Edgar had the bone-in chicken breast, currently featuring a rosemary dijon rub, garlic potatoes and asparagus finished with basil pesto and burrata cheese.

“I love that rosemary. It gives it kind of a minty feel to it,” said Edgar.

Bone-in chicken served at Kemp 208 in Morton.
Bone-in chicken served at Kemp 208 in Morton.(25News Now)

Customers like the menu that changes with the seasons, and the feeling of home.

Customer Alicia Holden said, “I love the food. When you can come in and get different things all the time - they have a pretty big menu, but then they change it very often which is nice.”

“It’s kind of like coming home, sitting in the family room and having a great dinner with great people,” said customer Mike Eeten.

“I want people to come in here and feel like they’re in my home, having dinner,” said Kemp.

“I try to talk to everybody that’s here, and it’s a good thing.”

Kemp 208 is open for lunch Tuesday through Friday from 11 A.M. to 2 P.M. and for dinner Tuesday through Saturday from 5 P.M. to 8:30 P.M.

You can follow Edgar on his Facebook page or on Edgar’s website. Edgar is also a local comic. He’ll be on stage Friday for Comedy Night at Kelleher’s in Peoria at 8 P.M.