Editor’s note: The Herald & Review each day is listing a reason the Decatur region is loved. We’re profiling people, places and history that are special to our region — and that make it a great place to live. See more here.
Just a few blocks from Millikin University, a lively ecosystem of varied restaurants and nightlife exists in the Oakwood area — West Main Street, Oakland Avenue and West Wood Street.
The area began a renaissance in the 1990s, thanks largely to the efforts of Bill Eichenauer, who was then chairman of the Oakwood Business Association. Eichenauer, who died in 2008, ran Eichenauer Services Inc. 130 S. Oakland Ave., which served the commercial food industry.
After Eichenauer Services moved from the area, developer Gregg Meisenhelter saw an opportunity to purchase and convert the east side of Oakland Avenue. Meisenhelter started in the real estate business while he was still a student at Millikin University and, by the time he graduated, owned a number of rental properties near campus that are primarily used by students.
Visitors can grab a breakfast horseshoe at the Blue Spoon or a beer at Lock Stock & Barrel; attend open-mic night at Donnie’s Homespun or order a Chicago-style hot dog at University Dogs; buy some new running shoes at Fleet Feet Sports or get some new ink at Oakwood Tattoo.
Businesses work together through the Oakwood Business Association to promote, maintain and beautify the area. In the summer, they host the Oakwood Street Festival, which offers live music and craft vendors each month. The events started in 2011 and bring hundreds of people to the area.