Local family takes over café

Christina Smith
Pam Tanner fills Jack Finney’s cup, while his son, John Finney, owner of Finé Café, and friend, Don Hinshaw 
of Peoria, smile for a photograph at the café Friday morning.

A passion for cooking and an interest in people led one Sunnyland resident to open his own café.

John Finney, 46, of Sunnyland, opened Finé Café (pronounced Fin-ay) Jan. 1 in the former Old Smokey's building at 2459 Washington Road in the former Old Smokey’s.

“I had a water business in Iowa called Finé Water, or fine water, and decided to use finé for the restaurant,” Finney said.

“I love to cook,” Finney, who does half of the cooking, said.

Finney said his 12-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son also help at the restaurant.

“I can work and still make it to their games,” Finney said, adding his daughter runs on the track team and his son plays baseball.

Before moving to Iowa, Finney said he grew up in Peoria and lived in Washington for a few years.

“I found out about the building being available from word of mouth,” Finney said.

Café food and hours

Open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday and Monday and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Finney said the café offers daily lunch and dinner specials.

“We have at least three specials every day,” Finney said.

Finney said he serves homestyle food, with soups and desserts that are made from scratch every day.

“Mornings we are busy during breakfast, especially on the weekends,” Finney said.

“Thursday and Friday night are also busy with customers coming in for either the pan-fried chicken (Thursday) or the all-you-can-eat walleye on Fridays.”

Although most of Finney’s customers live in or near Sunnyland, Finney said he has had a few people come from Bloomington for the Friday night walleye.

Some of Finney’s other specials include: liver and onions, salmon on rice, meatloaf and chicken and noodles.

Specials are $5.99 and are served with two side dishes.

For breakfast, Finney said biscuits and gravy is a popular item.

“I have three ladies who work for me that either cook or wait tables,” Finney said.

Keeping customers’ drinks filled and checking on customers is important to Finney, which is why he spends most of his time outside of the kitchen.

When he is not cooking or working, Finney said he enjoys spending time with his kids, playing golf, boating or going to Chicago Bears games.

Finney has several Bears photos or signs throughout the restaurant, some of which he has received from customers.

“My dad, Jack Finney, and my brother, Ed Finney, used to own Finney’s Sports Bar in Peoria,” Finney said, adding he has two older sisters and three younger brothers.

Finney said his father also owned Finney’s Restaurant in Deer Creek for a short time.

“One Saturday, about four or five of my old buddies came in,” Finney said. “Being from this area and getting to come back has been great.”

For more information, call Finney at 694-2277.