City presents facade grant check to Luna

‘We wouldn't be able to do this without the city’

By Jeff Helfrich, Managing Editor
Posted 6/6/24

On Tuesday, the City of Rochelle presented a facade grant check for $5,000 to Luna at 531 S. 7th St. in Rochelle.

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City presents facade grant check to Luna

‘We wouldn't be able to do this without the city’


ROCHELLE — On Tuesday, the City of Rochelle presented a facade grant check for $5,000 to Luna at 531 S. 7th St. in Rochelle.

The program covers half the cost of any improvements made to business fronts in town with a limit of $5,000. Improvements included a large new sign that shows the business's new name after a switch from its former moniker, Salt 251. Owner Jim Withers and General Manager Maria Hueramo provided background on the new name.

"The name Luna is based on coming out of the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic," Hueramo said. "We wanted it to be somewhere that's everybody's place. The decor and name revolve around Luna. The front is a little more sleek and darker with natural sunlight. The whole thing revolves around. 'Just look up. We came through it all. The moon is always shining bright.’"

Withers thanked the city for providing the program. 

“It's amazing to have access to this program,” Withers said. “We wouldn't be able to do this without the city. The city is amazing to work with. A lot of municipalities don't care like this. The city is intimately involved in everything we do. They help us grow and drive our business, and they care.”

Luna has recently undergone other extensive renovations including two new patios with gas fireplaces, gazebos, sitting furniture and outside bars. The front of the business has seen changes including landscaping and the addition of retaining walls. The interior of the bar and dining area and ballroom have been renovated as well. 

Withers and Hueramo said the changes have received positive feedback and the next project is the addition of a new bar in the banquet room. 

“We want to make this a place where people want to be,” Hueramo said. “As we have it become more and more of a venue spot, we want to draw business from other communities, and work with the other businesses here as well and build up that community support. There's not a go-to venue spot in Rochelle. We want to have something centrally-located for all of the neighboring towns to bring events to this community and help other businesses here.”

Mayor John Bearrows and members of the city’s community development department were on hand to present the check on Tuesday. Bearrows praised Luna’s ownership, management and staff for their work on improving the location. 

The City of Rochelle and the Flagg-Rochelle Community Park District jointly own Fairways Golf Course, where Luna resides. While the entities do not have a business partnership with the restaurant, Bearrows said the relationship has been fruitful since Luna’s current ownership took it over. 

“Jim and his staff have done an amazing job of improving this place,” Bearrows said. “He's made some major improvements in the right spots. He's gone all out with the facade. It's such a great thing to see work like this from the private sector. This restaurant is an integral part of our golf course. We're very thankful to have this relationship with Luna. We work well together and it's just been a great experience.”

Bearrows said the facade grant program allows the city to show its small businesses that it supports them. The city wants to help small businesses in every way it can, he said.

Rounds of golf have risen at Fairways Golf Course in recent years following golf being one of the few allowable activities during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns and new golfers sticking with it afterwards. Bearrows said that and Luna’s improvements make him optimistic about the facility’s future. 

“With the relationship we have with Luna, they work tremendously well with the golf course to develop events that compliment each other,” Bearrows said. “We've heard good comments about the condition of the golf course and the restaurant here is an important aspect. I'm very excited about it. Luna has turned out nice and Jim has done a great job of providing leadership on the private sector-end of all of this. The future of our golf course is affected by the ownership of the restaurant and we're happy with the way this relationship has worked out and we look forward to many years in the future.”