Best Entrepreneur

Since bursting on the scene with the opening of Cracked Pepper in 2005, Travis Mohlenbrink hasn’t missed a beat. Over several years, the entrepreneur worked around the clock to grow the business into one of Peoria’s most prominent go-to caterers, and with the opening of Salt in 2011, he added another elegant, fine-dining option to the restaurant row in Peoria Heights.

In 2013, Mohlenbrink opened Sugar Wood-Fired Bistro on SW Adams Street—a key catalyst in the ongoing transformation of Peoria’s Warehouse District—and its gourmet pizzas, fired by locally-sourced hardwood, remain an area favorite. Then Thyme Kitchen + Craft Beer came along in 2015, solidifying his presence in the Warehouse District—and his place in the echelon of Peoria’s top restaurateurs. Not only are the food and drinks fantastic, Thyme’s ambiance is remarkably versatile: casual enough for just about any visitor, but refined enough for a romantic night on the town.

Meanwhile, Mohlenbrink’s entrepreneurial drive hasn’t let up as he continues to experiment and try new things. Last year, he transformed Salt into Cayenne, a quick-casual joint offering tacos with a twist, and he recently launched Hops Kitchen inside the Peoria Brewing Company.