Yorkville native helping change face of downtown
By Steve Lord email@example.com December 21, 2012 12:36PM
Updated: January 25, 2013 6:09AM
YORKVILLE — The face of downtown Yorkville is changing rapidly, and that‘s due in large part to Rick Tollefson.
Tollefson and his company, Imperial Investments, began a major redevelopment of one of the downtown’s main blocks during 2012 — the west side of Route 47 between Van Emmon and Hydraulic streets.
The change actually started in late 2011, when Imperial Investments remodeled two buildings at Route 47 and Van Emmon into Cobblestone Bakery and Bistro and a theater, which opened for its first show on the last day of 2011.
Cobblestone grew its operation throughout the year, going from a bakery and coffeehouse-type operation to a full restaurant with a wine bar. In July, Tollefson announced that Cobblestone would expand into an even bigger restaurant operation that will include a coffeehouse, too.
The theater next door has been changed, and now books theatrical and musical events, known as River’s Edge Theater. Tollefson also is remodeling two buildings into restaurants, one a brand new Mongolian-style barbecue, and the other tweaking the Kendall Pub into the Kendall Grille. In all, Imperial is investing more than $4 million into the block.
Part of the change will be to drastically remodel the backs of the buildings so main entrances will be there, rather than on Route 47. Officials still are looking at the possibility of relocating the morass of utility poles and wires in the back.
Imperial was the successful bidder to buy the old Kendall County Jail building, at 111 W. Madison St., from the city to turn it into some kind of museum.
Tollefson grew up in Yorkville, graduating from Yorkville High. He started his own business in a garage in Morris, that grew into a nationwide sports apparel wholesaler and retailer, Boombah Inc.
In 2011, Tollefson moved Boombah to Yorkville, on the far north side in the former F.E. Wheaton building. During 2012, Boombah opened its first retail store and announced plans for others.
Imperial’s moves have begun a synergy downtown that is spreading.
Businesses thrive along Hydraulic Street on the riverfront, and the city has gotten interest in redeveloping its old post office site there.
Recently, a group of Naperville investors said they would buy OJ’s Tap on Route 47, across the street from the Imperial block. They intend to turn the neighborhood tap into a restaurant that is “a little more family-friendly.” It will be called Rowdy’s, and will be a Yorkville history and sports-themed restaurant.