Monday is the third anniversary of the EF-4 tornado that blew through parts of the Stateline. A destructive force leveling everything in its path — including a restaurant in Rochelle. But, Grubsteakers found a way to recover and reopen in 2016. Owners even added new menu items inspired by the tornado.
“Onion rings, chopped bacon in there, and all kind of cheeses in there,” said Grubsteakers owner Ava Mirtoska.
A burger at Grubsteakers is much more than just your typical cheeseburger. The ‘Tornado Burger’ was born when the restaurant reopened in 2016 after being devastated by a tornado over a year earlier. Mirtoska says she wanted to use ingredients that resembled the situation they were able to recover from.
“Everyone who has it for the first time, they pretty much come back all the time to have it again,” said Mirtoska. “I go through a lot of ‘Tornado Burgers’ every day.”
Even though Mirtoska was able to turn the disaster into something delicious, she says she will never forget the moment she looked out the window and knew she had to ask the twelve customers inside to take shelter with her back in 2015.
“This is not right, something is going to happen. But, no way it’s going to be a tornado, I was thinking it was going to be a storm. So, then good enough, I saw it from a far and I said ‘Oh my gosh, this is it’.”
Mirtoska says it took a year and half to rebuild the restaurant, but still misses the original Grubsteakers that held so many memories. But with her staff and loyal customers she is able to move forward every day.
“No day passes by I have no compliments from people. They’re glad to see this place is back and they love the food. They really love it and some of them can’t believe still we’re back and we’re open.”
Grubsteakers will be closed Monday but will open again Tuesday and have free pancakes to celebrate the tornado’s third anniversary.