If your nose doesn’t lead you to Rockford’s 15th & Chris burger restaurant, maybe your ears will.
For the last several years, music from the restaurant has been a sound of spring at the corner of 15th Avenue and Christina Street. That’s where the restaurant gets its name.
Inside, James Purifoy, the owner, greets everyone with a smile. 15th & Chris only opened for the season a few weeks ago.
“People send me other people’s burgers, like ‘Dude, hurry up and open. This is what I had to eat. Hurry up and open the place. I’m tired of this!'” Purifoy says.
Purifoy took the leap into the restaurant business nearly four years ago. When he purchased the building, it was in such bad shape, he didn’t get keys – he just pried away the boards and climbed in.
Originally working in the trucking business, Purifoy took culinary classes as a hobby. He kept asking himself: what did he see himself doing for the years to come?
“Every time I was faced with that question, I was cooking,” Purifoy says. “And then I was like, open up a restaurant.”
All of the burgers on the menu are his creation, but he isn’t in the business alone. He had to convince his wife Latasha it was a good idea. She spent the previous 12 years in the logistics industry. Now’s she’s running the kitchen.
“To come out of that into this world, I came in counting steps,” she said. “Why are we doing it this way? It’s more efficient this way. So, I drove him crazy changing stuff. ‘Cause in the world of logistics, we count steps.”
The couple’s daughter Daijah is also involved. When she’s not at school, she’s at the restaurant or doing chores at home.
Some couples might find it hard to spend so much time together, building a successful business. The Purifoys make it work.
“We never see each other when we’re here,” Latasha said. “He’s up front, I’m knee deep in orders, usually. So, we really don’t cross paths much. Unless he comes back in our area, and we kick him out of here.”
Purifoy says it means a lot to his soul to be able to run his business in his hometown. He wants to make things right, one burger at a time.
“Me, in my childhood, I did a lot of bad things in this city,” he said. “So, to come back to give back, to make those wrongs right,…that stands out even more, that you could come back and still have the love of your brothers your peers, the community. The city will support you because a lot of people that come from bad situations, they need that support to know that they could still come back and further their lives.”
Purifoy says the future of 15th & Chris involves a dine-in location. He hopes to have something lined up by the end of the year.