Mikayla Durkin, daughter of Beefaroo brand leader Dawn Durkin, draws customers to the newly opened Beefaroo on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, at 1680 N. Alpine Road in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — Beefaroo has opened its eighth location in the Rockford area and ninth restaurant in Illinois.

The fast-casual restaurant, which was founded in Rockford in 1967, opened its latest location at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at 1680 N. Alpine Road.

The restaurant is located in the former Sturtevant’s Menswear, which closed in fall 2020 after 45 years in business, and near Midland States Bank.

Trista Finn was there for lunch with her kids Jacob and Camila, who are 7-year-old twins, and Maya, age 8.

“They’ve been waiting for it to open. We’ve been seeing it be built,” Finn said. “They’re on break from school, so it’s the perfect day to come and grab a snack real quick.”

Related: Beefaroo expands along Route 66, and a Rockford artist helps the new location stand out

Beefaroo is a Rockford staple that is “famously delicious” for its beef sandwiches, cheddar fries, cheese curds and other fast-service food.

Brennan Pifer works the grill on Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022, at the newly opened Beefaroo at 1680 N. Alpine Road in Rockford. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

Finn said friends of hers that have moved away from Rockford often make it a point to eat at the restaurant when they visit home.

“When they come home they always want Beefaroo,” she said. “It’s one of the things I hear them say they miss.”

Next up for the local chain is opening its first location outside of Illinois. The company plans to open along the historic U.S. Route 66 at 1411 West Kearney St. in Springfield, Missouri, in mid- to late-January.

“We’re hoping to find some people from this community who have moved that way who would be great cheerleaders for that new location,” said Dawn Durkin, brand leader for the company.

She, like Finn, has noticed Rockford natives have a special affinity for the restaurant.

“I think it’s the best part of Beefaroo. The culture. The customers. The families that come here,” Durkin said. “They grow up on Beefaroo and they grow to love it. Even the first stop they want to make off the airplane is a Beefaroo before they head home.”

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Next Brands, which purchased the franchising rights to Beefaroo in 2021, is also developing plans for restaurants in Manhattan and Overland in Kansas, Essexville, Mount Pleasant and Rose City in Michigan, and Lebanon, Indiana, and Cross Creek, Missouri.

Beefaroo locations

  • 1680 N. Alpine Road, Rockford
  • 2538 Auburn St., Rockford
  • 6116 N. Second St., Loves Park
  • 3401 S. Alpine Road, Rockford
  • 6593 Lexus Drive, Rockford
  • 6380 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park
  • 4601 Adamson Lane, Machesney Park
  • 5109 Rock Rose Court, Roscoe
  • 820 W. Main St., West Dundee
  • Coming soon: 1411 West Kearney St. in Springfield, Missouri

This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at khaas@rockrivercurrent.com or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas or Instagram @thekevinhaas.