Vitale’s Restaurant

Restaurateur celebrates 31 years serving Rockford

November 5, 2009 // 0 Comments

Owner believes ‘Jesus has kept us here,’ has plans for the future Terry Prowoznik knows the value of good food served in a unique atmosphere and at a good price. But he doesn’t think that is all there is to the success of the Rockford Vitale’s Pizza, not in their 31st year of business. He isn’t afraid to be open with his strong faith in God, and has images of Jesus, religious pamphlets and Bible quotes on the walls of the restaurant, located at 42 E. Bridge Street in downtown Rockford. Christian music plays nonstop throughout the building every day. “About five years ago we switched to Christian music. That makes us unique,” said Prowoznik. He is also among only a few eateries to have operated for such a long time in the City’s square. When Prowoznik started out at age 18, the restaurant was located in the former Antique Mall, which has since been torn down and replaced with the Welcome Center near Great Northern Trading Company. He recalls his neighbors at that location. On the very top was Baskets in the Belfry—and that lofty location is the reason the store earned its name. He said the Candle Shop was already in business there and the Downery, a ski shop that sold winter wear. He recalls a gun shop in downtown and plenty of others who have come and gone. Prowoznik said he was in a position to expand his business when his current building came up for sale. In his former location he had room for only three tables, and business called for more. “I liked that it was one of the town’s oldest buildings” he said of his large restaurant, which is even bigger in the upper level. He said the building Rockford has long known as Vitale’s was a stagecoach stop in its early years. Built in 1879, it was Squires Inn for years and also once was a boarding house called Bridge Street House. Room rentals were for overnight or longer.   Prowoznik purchased the building in 1980 and renovated it to be suitable for his business. “It was a restaurant when I bought it, but it wasn’t fit for me,” he said. He opened up walls and made room […]