Rochelle News-Leader | Brewski’s Bar & Grill opens downtown

ROCHELLE — Patrons of Brewski’s Bar & Grill in downtown Rochelle, at 406 Cherry Ave., are encouraged to bring photos of themselves with their biggest catch of fish to hang on the walls.

The fishing-themed bar and grill held a ribbon cutting on Thursday and officially opened on Friday at the former site of The Rack Bar & Grill. Two photos that are already on the company’s wall hold special meaning behind its name and theme for owners Joshua and Robin Blunt.

One of the photos features a good friend of Robin’s who died nine years ago and went by the nickname Brewski. The other features his late father, who took him fishing.

“Fishing has been a part of my life since I was a kid,” Robin said. “When we thought of a theme, it kind of swept away everything we could think of. We know fishing is a family activity. We certainly have a lot of our own photos right now, but we want the community bring their own pictures and everyone come here and can show their picture on the wall.

After being open Friday and Saturday, Brewski’s will be closed Sunday for Mother’s Day before entering its regular hours of Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. The video game machines likely won’t be ready until next month due to a lag period due to a change in ownership.

Robin said Brewski’s will focus more on the grill side of being a bar and grill. It will have a chef with 15 years of culinary experience making bar food including burgers, wings and fried food. Weekly specials will also be featured that could include anything from steak to pasta dishes to tacos, Robin said. Guest chefs are also in the works.

Robin and Joshua have six children between them. The bar’s renovations have been difficult to balance with their family life, and it’s meant their kids have been helping out where they can while their parents have turned their new location into Brewski’s.

“Our kids are good and come here and play and help out,” Robin said. “My 11 year old son helped scrape the floor. Even our youngest children come here and wipe the tables and help out. We really want the community to feel at home when they come here and for it to be a safe place to bring their children. We want to make sure it’s somewhere we’d be comfortable bringing our own kids.”

The remodel was done entirely by Joshua and Robin which was cost effective. Changes to the interior of the building include new flooring, paint, and different tables and lighting.

“It was so dark before,” Robin said. “We made it much brighter and painted all the tables. The bar will eventually be changed. The work went quickly. Everything had to be done quickly.”

The Blunts are not bar owners by trade. Joshua is a chiropractor who has a clinic in the Quad Cities, but his job allows him to spend most of his time in Rochelle. Robin is a nurse.

“I just finished a nursing contract and I’m taking a little break just to calm down after COVID-19,” Robin said. “Because it was hard to deal with it all. We wanted a business here in Rochelle to take root and be truly part of the community. This opportunity presented itself and we jumped on it.”

At Thursday’s grand opening, Rochelle Chamber of Commerce executive director Tricia Herrera welcomed Brewski to the city and marveled at the career change.

“I was very lucky to meet Robin a few weeks ago,” Herrera said. “The first question I asked her was how to go from being a travel nurse to owning a bar and grill. She said it was her dream. We are happy that your dream is here in Rochelle.

Herrera said she’s glad the space didn’t sit vacant for too long after The Rack closed. Mayor John Bearrows agreed and welcomed the Blunts on behalf of the City of Rochelle.

“It’s a pleasure to have this building filled again,” Bearrows said. “You’ve done an amazing job and it looks awesome. On behalf of the city, welcome not just to downtown, but to Rochelle. I think what you’ll find in La Rochelle is that it’s There is a very strong connection between our small businesses and the city and all our departments. We are all on the same page and the same team. We are there to help each other.

Robin called the experience of starting a business “eye-opening” and said she and Joshua appreciated how the community embraced them.

“Thank you for welcoming us into the community,” said Robin. “I hope we will be here for a very long time.”

David H. Henry