ROCK FALLS – The new riverfront banquet center will make its debut Feb. 25 as it hosts the annual meeting and dinner of the Rock Falls Chamber of Commerce.
The newly named McCormick Event Center at 205 E. Third St. still is a work in progress, as is The Industrial Restaurant that shares space at the redeveloped site, the former home to Rock River Tool and Die.
The Chamber dinner, which always draws a large crowd, will serve as a soft opening opportunity for the new business. Two other events are planned for the end of February, but the grand opening is a few months away.
“We’re shooting for March to have our kitchen done,” owner Larry McCormick said. “Things are coming together real quick, but we won’t have our grand opening until April or May, when we have all the bugs out.”
McCormick won’t be actively involved in the day-to-day business operations; he will limit his role to that of landlord, he said.
Matt Prescott, owner of the Candlelight Inns, and his business partner Tim Kendrick are bringing an upscale restaurant to the building. They are trying to have the eatery, The Industrial Restaurant, ready by the end of March.
Don’t expect to find Chicken George – the restaurant won’t be another Candlelight Inn, Prescott said. He is working on a menu that brings something different to the area. There also will be a full bar and catering services.
McCormick, who is in his third year as a sponsor of the Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities program, decided to use his new business as a training ground.
“We had the CEO kids come out and brainstorm with us, and they helped us come up with some good ideas,” he said.
Their good ideas included input on naming the banquet center, its rooms and the restaurant. The largest room at the event center is now called the Grande Room, and the group decided to pay homage to the building’s past by creating two Tool and Die rooms.
“It was a good group of kids,” McCormick said. “I told them that when they get a good idea, use it here and don’t leave town.”
McCormick bought two pieces of land from the city and received a variance so he could create more parking space. His lot now can hold 120 vehicles.
The new event center and restaurant soon will have a second riverfront hotel to boost business. Local developer Pete Harkness is on track to start construction on an $8 million hotel at the RB&W site on East Second Street.
Harkness is working with South Dakota-based My Place Hotels to build the 46-unit hotel.