Tom & Jerry’s plans to open its fourth location in the Rockford area here, at 7170 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, between Dairy Queen and Chipotle. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)
    By Kevin Haas
    Rock River Current
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    LOVES PARK — Tom & Jerry’s is bringing its gyros, Italian beef sandwiches, Angus beef cheeseburgers and other favorites to a new location on Riverside Boulevard.

    The local fast-dining chain plans to break ground at 7170 E. Riverside Blvd. next month with a goal of opening in December, said Bob Grottke, owner of Tom & Jerry’s. It is the restaurant chain’s fourth location.

    The newest restaurant puts Tom & Jerry’s in the middle of a growing corridor with the Mercyhealth Sportscore Two complex, Costco, Javon Bea Mercyhealth Hospital-Riverside, multiple hotels, hundreds of rooftops and other businesses nearby. It’s also right off Interstate 90, and an average of nearly 17,000 cars pass by the spot each day, according to Illinois Department of Transportation daily counts.

    “As I look down the street there’s a Costco. They’re building in an area where there’s families,” Grottke said. “We like the fact that Costco’s there. That tells us a lot — that Costco did their research. That families are there.”

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    Other best-selling items at Tom & Jerry’s are Vienna beef hotdogs and barbecue ribs. The restaurant takes pride in offering gourmet burgers at fast-food prices.

    “The homemade quality food out of a full-serve restaurant at fast-food prices; that’s really where we excel,” Grottke said.

    Loves Park City Council members voted Aug. 8 to approve a special-use permit for the drive-thru restaurant.

    “The mayor (Greg Jury) and the city have been very accommodating for us,” Grottke said. “I think they’re very excited to get an independent chain that’s making a $3 million investment in your town.” 

    Tom & Jerry’s is also working on expanding its reach even further. Grottke said they are working on another location now and hope to have three to five more in the next two years.

    “A lot of that will be dictated on how the economy goes,” he said.

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    The Loves Park location will have 40 employees. There have been five hired so far and hiring is ongoing.

    “As much as we want to be home to the customer for food, we want to be home to our employees,” Grottke said. “Our employees are our family. That’s how we get staff, that’s how we keep staff and that’s why our people stay with us.”

    Tom & Jerry’s | Locations

    • 2040 N. State St., Belvidere (815-547-8300)
    • 1555 W. Lane Road, Machesney Park (815-547-8300)
    • 5446 E. State St., Rockford (917-555-1234)
    • Coming soon: 7170 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park
    • On the web:
    The new Tom & Jerry’s restaurant will be located between Dairy Queen and Chipotle on Riverside Boulevard in Loves Park. (Photo by Kevin Haas/Rock River Current)

    This article is by Kevin Haas. Email him at or follow him on Twitter at @KevinMHaas.