By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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ROCKFORD — A new locally-owned restaurant on Forest Hills Road aims to keep your stomach and your wallet full with its $6 meal deal.
But its biggest feasts will be served on Sundays.
Brothers Ruben Randle and Jesse Stapleton opened Keebler Kitchen, 5811 Forest Hills Road, on Monday. Their restaurant occupies the space that was previously Taqueria Azteca Express. It has dine-in, carryout and drive-thru options.
“We want to start getting to know every last one of our customers by name, so that we always have that relationship with them,” said Stapleton, whose childhood nickname is now the restaurant’s name.
They hope customers will come to know them for their Sunday specials, a mix-and-match deal that comes with your choice of various meats and sides. You can get barbecue rib tips, barbecue or jerk chicken, pot roast or turkey legs with sides that include collard greens, cabbage, yams, dressing, cheesy potatoes, macaroni and cheese and spaghetti. They also plan to mix in oxtails and lamb chops on occasion.
“We want our Sundays to be our busiest day of the week,” Randle said.
The Sunday special is $20 for two meats and two sides, $25 for two meats and three sides and $30 for three meats and three sides.
The restaurant is also open for late-night cravings, closing at 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
Randle and Stapleton are both Chicago natives who have lived in Rockford for roughly a decade. They cut their teeth in the fast food industry, both holding management positions at KFC and Popeyes before they decided to go into business for themselves.
They said their knowledge in the kitchen was passed down from their mother, who they learned to cook from while growing up in Chicago.
“Everything that comes out of the kitchen we seasoned it, made it up on our own,” Randle said.
The name Keebler comes from a nickname Stapleton’s mom and grandparents gave to him for sneaking cookies out of the cookie jar as a child. The name stuck.
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The everyday specials, which are all served with fries, include an Italian beef, double cheeseburger, chicken sandwich, nachos, chicken tenders, catfish nuggets and shrimp.
The $6 meal deal menu consists of either a cheeseburger, nachos, pizza puff and fries, Chicago-style Polish sausage or five-piece chicken wings.
“We want to keep the prices low so no one has to miss out on the food here,” Randle said.
About | Keebler Kitchen
Where: 5811 Forest Hills Road, Rockford
Hours: 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the location of the restaurant.