A marriage made in BBQ heaven: Palatine restaurant's menu moving to Rolling Meadows sports bar
When Mike Reppe of Rep's Place sports bar in Rolling Meadows and Mike and Katie Burriss of Brothers' Ribs in Palatine met years ago at the Palatine Street Fest, something clicked.
Now that meeting is about to turn into a marriage made in barbecue heaven.
On Nov. 19, Brothers' Ribs will close the Palatine location it has inhabited since 1991. Then in January, Mike and Katie Burriss will take themselves and their product to Rep's Place, 3200 Kirchoff Road.
Mike and Katie will serve as general managers - with Mike in the kitchen and Katie up front - while their Brothers' offerings will migrate to Rep's menu, including their award-winning sauce and dry rub.
Brothers', located at 758 W. Euclid Ave., traces its lineage to founder Rusty Findlay. Rusty, a onetime Naperville church pastor, passed away in 2020.
"He was from Kentucky and North Carolina. The sauce is actually his mother's recipe. And then the rub is his recipe," Mike Burriss said.
Rusty opened the first Brothers' Ribs in Lake Zurich in 1990, and at one point operated restaurants in Schaumburg and Mundelein. Now the last remaining store in the chain, the Palatine location opened in 1991.
Mike Burriss began working for Rusty in Lake Zurich in 1999.
"(Rusty) always looked at Mike like his son," Katie said.
The relationship was close for another reason.
"My two oldest daughters, he's their grandfather," Mike said.
Mike later moved to the Palatine location, where he was joined by Katie. Mike and Katie have been together since 2005.
"I started working here part time, but we didn't buy it until 2018," Katie said.
The business remained popular through COVID, and all it takes is a glance one of their baskets filled with pork and smothered fries swimming in barbecue sauce to know why.
But Katie said inflation and overhead costs proved overwhelming. She shared her struggles with Reppe, and those conversations eventually led to the idea of a merger.
"I have always wanted to have barbecue, but I don't know enough about it myself," Reppe said. "Rolling Meadows has not had barbecue since Russell's left (in the mid-2000s). I've gotten to know Mike and Katie over the last three or four years, and we're very similar, very hardworking, very entrepreneur-like and there's no point for multiple people to struggle and work this hard. So we're just going to join forces."
The new team believes their merged menus will offer something for everyone.
"Everyone's very sad that we're closing because I mean, we've been here forever," Katie Burriss said. "I want people to know that this isn't the end, that we are moving on to greener pastures."
Reppe said he might do a small rebrand to his restaurant when the merger happens.
"Right now our tagline is 'sports, burgers and beers,'" he said. "We're probably going to change that to 'sports, burgers and barbecue.'"