Rosy’s Roadhouse aims to keep students in town

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Chris Burrows –
Rosy's Roadhouse, a bar, grill and music venue at 930 Pappas Drive, DeKalb, is appealing to Northern Illinois University students after its August grand opening in the former location of Starbusters.

DeKALB – Joe Chavez, one of the three owners of Rosy’s Roadhouse, says he hopes his new bar in an old location can help keep Northern Illinois University students from fleeing DeKalb when class isn’t in session.

Based on the crowds that the bar has drawn so far, it might be making some inroads.

Marty Estrada of DeKalb and his friends stopped by the bar Aug. 30.

“We just honestly stepped in and stepped out because there were so many people here,” Estrada said.

Rosy’s Roadhouse, 930 Pappas Drive, attracted more than 3,000 customers over the course of its opening weekend, Aug. 22 through 24, and about 2,500 the next weekend, Chavez said. Now the bar, which was formerly known as Starbusters in the same location, is working to spread its appeal across campus and the community behind new owners and a new mission.

“We’re trying to bring the whole Chicago vibe out to campus,” Chavez said. “We know that this is a suitcase school, so we’re trying to see if we can help keep the kids here and going to local establishments instead of going home every weekend.”

Chavez along with co-owners Brendan Fitzharris and Rosy Amodio have invested thousands of dollars into the bar to turn it around and make it into a promising music venue.

In addition to new floors and fresh paint, 25 new TVs and a fully upgraded stage area, the owners have reopened the bar’s kitchen for the first time in three years.

“That’s huge,” Chavez said. “We have a full menu, everything from burgers and wraps to your simple stuff: chicken wings and pizza.”

The bar has scheduled a variety of bands and performers to fit a spectrum of tastes. Chicago-based DJs and popular cover bands like Mike and Joe already have graced Rosy’s stage. On Wednesdays, patrons can partake in karoake in front of a live band.

“Instead of just standing up there with a box, you’re up there with a full band,” Chavez said. “... It’s very successful in Chicago, so we’re bringing it out here.”

Chavez said the owners began seriously considering the purchase of Starbusters back in October and are still making changes to help attract more and more customers. The bar offers specials for NIU students.

“We realized that there’s a good opportunity for us to help, hopefully, bring some nightlife back to DeKalb and add to the great establishments that are out here,” Chavez said.

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