Have you ever eaten at a brunch place and thought, this food is amazing, wish I could also have this tonight? Or wondered what Champaign’s most unique craft beer names are? Watson’s Shack and Rail, fine-casual eatery for Southern comfort food, can help the average local out on both pressing accounts. That’s probably why it was popular enough to win both Best New Business and Best Cocktails this year.
Watson’s specializes in fried and rotisserie style chicken, offering biscuits, pie, seasonal sides and appetizers, and the frosting on the cake: these are delightfully paired with custom cocktails, craft beers, etc. (the answer to the previous question is “Trout Slayer”). Their mission is to follow “the national food trend towards a more sustainable and transparent food system,” and to offer “affordable food with higher standards of quality and integrity.”
Of course, the best way to take in comfort food is with some finely-mixed alcohol. “We like to do some fun things,” general manager Ian Willette said. Among their most popular cocktails is the Watson’s Wabbit, a hearty mix of gin and carrot juice, as well as their constantly updating line of slushie cocktails.
“At this point, we’re just trying to see what we can freeze,” Willette said.
When asked what kind of impact he foresaw Watson’s having for the Chambana community, owner and Marketing Director Alec Gillespie responded: “Watson’s aims to work with local farmers, collaborate with other businesses, and discuss how we can get more involved with the food industry and the community in general. We have the vision to not just thrive as an industry but also to help the community and be involved in any way possible, like with the pride festival, donating excess food to those in need, etc.”
In addition to a tasty menu for food and drink, Watson’s has a wide range of hours sure to please every type of Chambana local, from the brunch-lovers to the night owls. On Fridays and Saturdays the establishment is open until 2AM, and on Sunday’s they serve brunch at 10AM. There are also live performances from local musicians during the nighttime hours.
Watson’s is located on 211 N. Neil, Champaign but also delivers for those that may have a spontaneous craving while stuck in a study group. Too many great options, need recommendations? Alec’s favorite dish on the menu is “the natural hot chicken, in all forms.” So what are you waiting for? Whether in-dining or delivery, don’t hesitate to check out CU’s Best New Business!