Backyard Grill and Bar wins ‘Best Rockford Burger’ contest

Backyard Grill and Bar's winning burger. (Photo provided)
Backyard Grill and Bar’s winning burger. (Photo provided)

By Audrey Carpenter
Staff Writer

Backyard Grill and Bar’s “Backyard Burger” has been chosen by readers of The Rock River Times as “Best Rockford Burger.”

The Backyard Burger is a house classic made of tangy barbecue sauce, crisp bacon and American cheese, topped with onion rings on a kaiser roll. The burger is $9, comes with fries, and can be tried at any of Backyard’s three locations — 6472 N. Second St., Loves Park, Ill.; 5390 Elevator Road, Roscoe, Ill.; and 201 E. State St., Cherry Valley, Ill.

Runner-up in the contest was Alchemy at Giovanni’s, 610 N. Bell School Road, Rockford. Third place belonged to Greenfire Restaurant, 6795 E. Riverside Blvd., Rockford, with Sisters’ Café, 2626 Kilburn Ave., fourth. Fifth place was a tie between Octane InterLounge, 124 N. Main St., Rockford, and Club 51, 6021 11th St., Rockford.

The contest ran from early September through Nov. 1 with about 150 nominations being made at

About the winner, Backyard Grill and Bar

After working at chain restaurants for years, Rich Schmidt wanted to do something different. He was working at an Applebee’s when he met Martin Elliott around 1993. A mutual friend told them about a restaurant going out of business.

The soon-to-be vacant location was in Loves Park at 6473 N. Second St. Schmidt and Elliott decided to join together in 1996 and open Backyard Grill and Bar in the Loves Park location. Since then, they have opened a Roscoe location and a Cherry Valley location.

We have these specially-made grills that cook over hickory wood. That’s where the name Backyard Grill came from,” said Schmidt.

The restaurant’s decor also has a backyard feel, from the outdoor scenery painted on the walls to the garden hoses, rakes and other outdoor equipment that hang on the walls. The pair wanted to give the restaurants a feeling of being outdoors while customers are indoors.

The restaurants have become very popular and are a regular hang-out for the football crowds.

Their claim to fame is their wings, prime rib and burgers.

The restaurant has expanded into several area Woodman’s locations where their sauces and seasonings are available for sale as well as on their website. They sell wing sauce, barbecue sauce, and Jamaican, Cajun and backyard seasonings. They also offer catering.

Elliott said they are also offering a gift certificate program for the upcoming holiday season that is $10 off for every $50 purchased. There is no minimum on the number of gift certificates that can be purchased.

You will find Elliott and Schmidt at their locations daily. They still cook and work within the restaurants every day, making sure their customers have a pleasant dining experience.

Visit for more info. They are also on Facebook.

From the Nov. 13-19, 2013, issue

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