Open for Business: Local restaurant owner adapts to pandemic changes, finds support in community that raised him

Open For Business

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The barbecue restaurant that once was a gathering ground for those in Peoria, is now a much quieter scene. It’s all because of COVID-19.

“We can’t have events,” said Dan Ruffin, the co-owner of Que For You. “We’re really not selling any alcohol because, you know, I’m not having people come in, sit around and drink. And we’ve got COVID going on, and so basically the bar is making no money.”

Ruffin, a retired basketball coach-turned-entrepreneur, opened the restaurant with his brothers in July of 2019. Their goal has been to offer quality, homecooked food in the community that raised him.  

“We started the business to service the community and create a positive entity in this area and we just want to keep it that (way),” he said.

But now Ruffin’s days of smoking meat while serving customers doesn’t look the same. Statewide mitigations have shut down dine-in options. Now, he only offers carryout. The move has brought some concerns. 

“Were we going to be able to survive? You know, how are we going to keep customers coming in to keep our business open?”

dan ruffin

“You have to figure out a way where you can come up with the money to pay your bills or else you’ll close your doors,” Ruffin said.

Ruffin said he’s grateful for the city grants that have helped his restaurant. Even more so, he said it’s the support from the community that is keeping them afloat. 

“We’ve just been lucky,” he said. “We have enough community support and we’ve been able to survive.”

Even when the challenges hit, Ruffin said he’s not letting them stop the restaurant’s progress.

Ruffin said, “It’s about keeping something in the community. You know because if you close up everything in the community and the people down here don’t have places to come. So that’s a problem.”

Que For You is located at 301 N. MacArthur Hwy. in Peoria.

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