Ribbon cutting held for Ralfie’s BBQ and Catering’s new downtown building
'It's just a great day of celebration for us'
ROCHELLE — On Friday, a ribbon cutting event was held for Ralfie’s BBQ and Catering’s new downtown building, The 302 at 410 Cherry Ave.
The business, owned by Ralf and Tricia Herrera, has been in operation since 2009. What started on a small scale of selling kebabs and pork chops became catering a few small weddings a year to now offering full-service catering and serving at 35-40 weddings and more per year. The business outgrew its previous kitchen space and will now have a place to cook, get orders to customers and host gatherings, events and meetings.
"Thank you everyone for coming," Tricia Herrera said. "This is a big day for us. This is a long time coming. It's probably five years in the making. It's just a great day of celebration for us."
The 302 name is in honor of the house number of the home Tricia grew up in. The business’s LLC name is the Herrera BBQ Company in honor of Ralf’s parents, who have both passed away. When the decision came to name the brick and mortar location, the couple chose to honor Tricia’s late parents with The 302 name.
The Herreras thanked contractors, the City of Rochelle, staff, and family at the Friday event.
"Our friends and family do everything for us," Tricia Herrera said. "They jump in when we need an extra grill man. They haul a trailer when we need it. My sister rolls thousands of silverware for me. Our friends and family just step up for us and refer us to their friends and family. Everything about it is great and we can't thank you guys enough."
Tricia Herrera is the executive director of the Rochelle Chamber of Commerce, and typically leads ribbon cutting events in that position. Since the business opening Friday was she and her husband's, Chamber Board President Kari Andrist spoke in her place.
"Usually Tricia is introducing the businesses at ribbon cuttings, so tonight it's an honor to do this," Andrist said. "On behalf of the board, we're so excited that our executive director and Ralf expanded their business into this beautiful venue. We know it's been a labor of love and a long journey, and it's turned out amazing."
Mayor John Bearrows welcomed the Herreras to their new downtown space on behalf of the city.
"I want to publicly thank Tricia and Ralf," Bearrows said. "Not only is this an amazing venue, but you both do an amazing job of supporting all of the local events. Whether it's weddings or anything else, you're so in-depth in the community. And to make this investment in the community means a tremendous amount. We're extremely proud to have you be a part of our downtown and you've done an amazing job."
Tricia Herrera also thanked the business's customers.
"We couldn't do what we do without them," Tricia Herrera said. "And that's everybody. That's the person who stood in line to buy a kebab all the way to somebody who has had us cater their 500-guest wedding. And everyone in between. We celebrate with them with births and birthdays, high school graduations, engagements and weddings. Those people to us are truly family and we couldn't do this without them."
To close her speech, she thanked her husband and business partner.
"Ralf truthfully is one of the most heartwarming people I've ever met," Tricia Herrera said. "There's nights that he's up all night cooking and then works all day. I like to be the mouthpiece and the organizer and all that, but truthfully I wouldn't be anywhere without him."