ROCK FALLS – Ever since the Holiday Inn Express & Suites became the first big development project along the riverfront, the plan was for a new restaurant to follow. Three years later, a new eatery is on its way to the area.
Matt Prescott, owner of the Candlelight Inns, and his business partner Tim Kendrick are solidifying plans for starting a restaurant in the building at 205 E. Third St., the former Rock River Tool and Die. Local businessman Larry McCormick bought the building last summer and has been renovating it to be a banquet facility and business conference center.
In April, McCormick confirmed that a restaurant would be coming to his building, now known as the Riverside Banquet Hall and Conference Center, but he wasn’t ready to disclose who would be running it.
In addition to the Sterling, Rock Falls and Clinton, Iowa Candlelight Inns, the Prescott and Kendrick business holdings include Long Shot Sports Bar and Grill, the Corner Tap and Bartini’s in Rock Falls; the Brandywine Banquet and Event Center and That Place on Palmyra Pub and Eatery in Dixon; and Sauk Valley Plumbing.
Prescott and Kendrick still are firming up plans for the business, so more specifics about the eatery will be coming later.
“Yes, we’re doing something, and we’ve entered into an agreement with Larry, but we haven’t made a final decision on the name of the restaurant or drawn up a menu,” Prescott said.
They have decided that the new restaurant will not be another Candlelight Inn and that chicken George won’t be served.
“We want to try to do something that the area doesn’t already have and can really use,” Prescott said. “We have great Mexican food here, and there is plenty of pizza, burgers and subs.”
Regardless of the cuisine, there will be a full bar and catering services at the restaurant.
McCormick had hoped to have the special events center operating by June to cash in on peak wedding season, but bringing in the restaurant backed up his plans. The timeline for opening it also is up in the air.
“While we were hoping to get everything done by the end of the year, it’s really hard to find contractors,” Prescott said. “I haven’t ruled it out for this year, but I’m not expecting it, either.”
McCormick’s role will be as landlord; he will not be involved in the day-to-day business operations.
The new restaurant soon will have two riverfront hotels nearby to boost its business. Local businessman Pete Harkness is developing the RB&W site on East Second Street. The centerpiece of that project will be a 46-unit hotel.
Harkness has been working on the $8 million project with My Place Hotels.
Development in the city was given a shot in the arm in May 2018, when it was announced that Rock Falls would receive federal Opportunity Zone designation. The tax incentives for land in the central part of the city makes it more desirable to developers. The entire riverfront is eligible, including the RB&W site and the Limestone and Parrish-Alford areas.