The Green Well Rockford rebrands as Rockford Riverside Grille

Newly formatted restaurant opened to public April 17

After a year of operation, observing dining habits and listening to feedback from Rockford patrons, Essence Restaurant Group has decided to change its Green Well Rockford restaurant concept to a more family-friendly option called Rockford Riverside Grille (

The transition to the new concept was completed and opened to the public April 17.

Rockford Riverside Grille will offer the delicious food that Essence restaurants—The Green Well Gastro Pub, Grove and Bistro Bella Vita—are known for, but the venue will offer a fun, family-dining atmosphere that better fits the downtown Rockford dining scene.

Beginning April 17, Rockford Riverside Grille hours are: Sunday: Noon – 9 p.m., Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Friday – Saturday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Although The Green Well brand was well-received, Essence leaders knew that the downtown area could benefit from a comfortable grille that highlighted its prime location on the Rogue River, along with a better overall value.

“Over the course of our first year of operations in Rockford we collected a lot of honest feedback from our patrons, so we took that to heart and decided to offer a new concept that we feel will be a better fit for the area,” said Essence Restaurant Group managing partner James Berg. “We love Rockford and want to continue establishing our roots and be here for the long haul, so we’re hopeful this re-imagining of the space will help drive more traffic to this destination in downtown Rockford.”

Chicken Pot Pie with corn, peas, carrots, onion, herbs, and chicken gravy in a flaky pie crust

The Rockford Riverside Grille will offer a kids’ menu and more American-inspired comfort dishes like nachos, bacon-wrapped meatloaf, grilled salmon, hand-crafted sandwiches, salads and more. In addition, they will present live music on the patio this spring in time for the patio-dining season.

“Our feedback indicated that patrons want more downtown dining options that provide a comfortable setting for the entire family, so we did things like incorporate more rustic touches to create a more relaxed and less-urban space,” said Essence Restaurant Group marketing director Lauren Jaenicke. “We hope to become a favorite spot for the whole family, whether it’s for a quick bite, celebrating a big game or enjoying a big family supper.”

Longtime Essence chef Jeff Finan will serve as the head chef at Rockford Riverside Grille. Finan most recently served as head chef at The Green Well Gastro Pub in Grand Rapids. Although current staff will continue working at the location, Essence does intend to hire both front-of-house and back-of-house employees as a result of
the rebrand.

New craft cocktail menu

“When you dine with us, or any Essence restaurant, you can expect nothing less than delicious food,” said head chef Finan. “We believe that Rockford Riverside Grille will provide a great experience in a comfortable setting and at a comfortable price,” Finan notes.

“We have created a menu, ambiance and specials that we feel pay tribute to great community of Rockford, so we’re excited to showcase our new offering,” Berg adds. “We hope to become Rockford’s choice for fun family dining.”

Formal grand opening activities will coincide with Rockford’s popular Start of Summer Celebration in early June, but the restaurant began offering grand-opening specials starting Tuesday, April 17.