Whether it is a new business that’s just opened its doors or one that’s been in the city for generations, Sycamore is a place where businesses want to be and where they are making substantial investments.
One of the newest businesses calling Sycamore home is The Pantry Café, located next to the Sycamore State Theatre. It is owned and operated by the husband-and-wife duo of Randy and Jessica White.
The building is 90 years old and from about 1938 to 1972 housed another well-loved restaurant called The Pantry. The new restaurant, which is open for breakfast and lunch, is designed to ring a nostalgic bell for diners while also serving a menu of flavorful foods that are familiar yet entirely new.
“We’re bringing The Pantry back. It still has that nostalgic feel, but it’s our own take,” said Randy, noting the restaurant features fare that he calls “new American.”
“It is classic food, but we’re putting our own twist on it and it’s delicious,” Randy said.
Some of the popular standards include biscuits and gravy, chicken and waffles and mac and cheese. Other mouth-watering menu items are a goat cheese and marinara sauce dip, flatbread with country gravy, light and fluffy omelets, quiche and a brunch wrap with chorizo and eggs encased in a lemon cilantro wrap. Strawberry jam is made fresh in-house.
The décor features large old-time photos of the former Pantry restaurant and a comfortable décor.
“We’re calling it farmhouse rustic,” Randy said.
Randy earned his restaurant chops while mastering the culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu school in Chicago. He worked 15 years in the restaurant industry and always wanted to open his own restaurant, preferably in Sycamore. Most recently, he was employed as a chef at Pub 64 in Sycamore. ’
He was passing the vacant space that had been The Pantry when it occurred to him that this would be the perfect place to realize a long-held dream to open his own restaurant.
“A light bulb went off in my head,” he said. “I went home to my wife and I said, ‘Hey. We’ve got to bring The Pantry back.’”
Randy is handling the kitchen while Jessica is overseeing the front of the house. Both of the Whites were born and raised in Sycamore and love the community. The restaurant’s catch phrase, “Rooted in our community. Sharing our passion for food,” reflects the affection they have for their home town and their desire to serve the highest quality in food to their patrons.
The Whites envision The Pantry Café as a gathering spot for the community.
“We like having a community feeling in our restaurant,” Randy said. “We want this to be a place where everyone feels welcome and where they can connect with each other.”
On an entirely different scale, but in a related field, The Suter Company, which has manufactured prepared food products since 1925, is undergoing an expansion. The company, which moved to Sycamore in the 1930s, is building an 81,000-square-foot expansion of its existing facility on Bethany Road.
“We’ve been growing steadily in recent years,” said Tim Suter, president and CEO. “We’ve been fortunate to do business with some of the major food retailers in the U.S. and Canada and we’ve been very successful in meeting their needs.”
The company broke ground in October 2017 on the expansion that will be used for preparing its line of refrigerated salads, which are currently produced at their May Street facility. The expansion will give the company the ability to grow well into the future at both sites. It is expected the new facility will open in the fall of 2018.
The company, that was founded by Tim Suter’s grandfather, Charles Suter, now employs about 285 people.
“We’ve been steadily adding employees as we continue to grow,” Suter said.
In addition to refrigerated salads, the company introduced in the 1990s shelf-stable lunch and snack kits.
The company invests in the community not only through its business, but through donating to local nonprofits and by hosting a MobilePack event each November for Feed My Starving Children, a Christian nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate starvation and severe malnutrition worldwide. Last year more than 5,000 volunteers packed over 1.2 million meals over the course of the four-day event.
The third generation of Suters have a strong connection to Sycamore and see it as a place where they want to be and invest.
“The people of Sycamore are fantastic and the city is great to work with,” Suter said. “We’ve been here for three generations and God willing, we’ll be here for three generations more.”
Illinois Community Credit Union
508 W. State St.
The Suter Company
1015 West Bethany Rd.
The Pantry Café
418 W. State St.
439 E. State St.
Ideal Industries/SK Tools
1600 S. Prairie Dr.
The Forge of Sycamore
327 W. State St.
Slow Smoke Barbeque
265 West Peace Rd., Ste. 102
1501 Dekalb Ave.
First State Bank
1940 Dekalb Ave.
1645 Dekalb Ave.