By Kevin Haas
Rock River Current
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MACHESNEY PARK — Village President Steve Johnson was a fan of Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburgers before the fast-dining chain came to town.
Now, he’s its best spokesperson.
That’s how Freddy’s co-founder Scott Redler described Johnson on Monday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Parks Chamber of Commerce to celebrate the opening of the Wichita, Kansas-based chain’s first restaurant in the Rockford region.
Johnson has plenty of accolades to give about Freddy’s, from its food and desserts to its management. He thinks fans of Freddy’s who come to town for sports tournaments at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two or other locations will find the restaurant, and then find more to like about Machesney Park.
“I don’t know that we’ve ever been embraced by a town or village as much as we have here,” said Eric Cole, franchise owner. “It’s really heartwarming to see.”
The restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday at 9901 Orlando St.
Johnson said he would often take his grandkids to the Freddy’s in Frankfort, a village southwest of Chicago, and they became fast fans of the freshly made steakburgers and custard creations.
“Now, we’re closer,” Johnson said. “We’re very proud to have them in Machesney Park: Made in Machesney Park, the Freddy’s way.”
The “Freddy’s way,” Redler said, is about bringing its homemade, fresh burger concept consistently across all its roughly 400 locations across 34 states.
“We’re here to do it right. … Right is the Freddy’s way,” he said. “You take a bite of the steakburger, steam comes out, fries are hot, custard is made fresh.”
It’s the freshness that makes Freddy’s different, Cole said.
“No burger is ever dropped on the grill until you order it. Same thing goes with our fries. We don’t drop our fries until you order them,” Cole said. “We pride ourselves also on having top-quality ingredients. So when you get your order, whether it’s the counter or at the drive-thru, it’s the top-quality ingredients hot and fresh.”
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Johnson said village residents should be glad to see another restaurant option in town.
“Machesney Park, we don’t have the same thing again and again and again, we have different things all the time,” the mayor said. “That’s important to bring people, attract people and have them come here.”
The 20-year-old company faced delays in opening its first location in the Rockford region and 17th in Illinois. Supply chain issues caused delays in receiving windows and restaurant equipment, pushing back opening about two months.
“It was a long journey but they’re here,” Johnson said.