Berry & Butter Cafe

Osiel Serna and Crystal Rodriguez pose for a photo Thursday after the opening day of their restaurant, Berry & Butter Cafe, at the site of longtime area establishment Bill’s Diner on Kennedy Drive. The couple, of Hanover Park, have taken over the operations of the site from Ramon and Katlyn Diaz, of Bradley, who are the owners of Pa-Chan-Ga, the Mexican restaurant in Meadowview Center.

BRADLEY — A new restaurant made its debut late last week in a very familiar dining location in Bradley.

Berry & Butter Cafe, operated by Osiel Serna and Crystal Rodriguez of Hanover Park, is the new restaurant at the site of the longtime area favorite establishment, Bill’s Diner, 597 Kennedy Drive.

The couple opened the new restaurant Thursday as they have taken over the operations of the site from Ramon and Katlyn Diaz, of Bradley, who are the owners of Pa-Chan-Ga, the Mexican restaurant at 110 Meadowview Center, Kankakee.

In addition to the approximate 100-seat Pa-Chan-Ga restaurant in Kankakee, Ramon and Katlyn recently opened a second Pa-Chan-Ga location, about 110 seats, at 436 S. Dixie Highway, Beecher. The couple also operate the Kankakee Elks banquet facility in St. Anne.

“The restaurants are doing very well,” Ramon said, adding that they had the issue of so many diners at the Kankakee Pa-Chan-Ga that wait times were too long.

The Beecher restaurant opened on April 7.

Ramon said operating Bill’s Diner was simply becoming too much for them.

Ramon said they learned that Osiel and Crystal were looking for a restaurant site. They sat down, talked things over and came to an agreement.

Ramon noted that with COVID-19 restrictions easing on gatherings, the banquet business is picking back up.

Regarding Berry & Butter, Rodriguez said the location will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, meaning they will focus on breakfast and lunch. She said they may extend the hours to dinner time, but that is a decision for some time down the road.

She noted the restaurant will offer traditional breakfast and lunch dishes.

“We are on-site people. We will be there almost all of the time,” she said.

During the transfer from Bill’s Diner to Berry & Butter, the location was only closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of last week as they needed to paint the interior.

“This place feels homey. I’ve worked in restaurants a long time. We know what we are doing,” she said.

She said patrons are anxious to return to somewhat more normal lifestyle as the threat of the COVID-19 virus lessens as vaccinations increase.

• • •

Last week, Journal associate editor Chris Breach reported how Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in Bourbonnais was urging workers — through $100 gift cards — to get the COVID-19 vaccination.

A great idea.

The company is not alone, and that’s a great thing.

Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, located on the Kankakee’s far south side just south of the Super Walmart store, not only provided incentive to its workers to get the vaccination through a $75 payroll bonus, but the Oklahoma City, Okla.-based company also provided other incentives during these difficult times.

In Kankakee, Love’s has about 60 full- and part-time staff.

“It’s been absolutely amazing,” said Beth Corona, 39, of Bradley, who has worked for Love’s for about three years. Concerning Beth’s last name, she noted it’s like the beer, not the virus.

“The way they have treated us makes me feel good and proud to be with a company like this. It was just their way of saying thanks for the hard work we put in to keep the location open.”

The company provided quarterly payroll bonuses for management to assist and encourage staff.

“Unprecedented times means taking unprecedented measures to take care of employees and that’s what Love’s has done as a company,” said company spokeswoman Caitlin Campbell. “We’ve continued to take care of our corporate and store team members so they in turn can take care of our customers — professional drivers and four-wheel customers.”

Love’s has more than 30,000 employees at 550 locations in 41 states. The company is beginning construction of a new site in Grant Park.

Campbell said the company started giving hourly employees $2-an-hour pay increases and bonuses in March 2020 in light of the hard work and dedication they showed during the pandemic.

In addition to hourly pay increases and quarterly bonuses, Love’s also implemented additional paid sick time related to COVID-19 and free meals for store employees.

The COVID-19 pay increase ended at the end of March 2021 and was replaced with a permanent pay increase.

Hats off to Love’s!

The Daily Journal’s Lee Provost writes about local business rumors, comings and goings and other notes of interest. Anyone with information to share should contact Provost at lprovost@daily-journal.com or 815-937-3364.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.