Making a Better Earth

There is ample evidence that humans are overrunning the planet’s resources and causing ecological destruction to our natural environment. The good news is, we can slow this process considerably by simply reconsidering the way we consume and dispose of food. Convincing people to change their habits is an uphill battle, say Luke and Yvonne Rosenbohm, but it’s one they’ve taken on to ensure a more sustainable future for the next generation.  

Luke and Yvonne at the Peoria Riverfront Market
Luke and Yvonne at the Peoria Riverfront Market

“We want to fix this problem for our kids,” Yvonne says, “before the government mandates it.” As our landfills begin to run out of space, that is a very real possibility. 

About 20 percent of what goes into landfills is food waste, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—and composting is one of the best ways to reduce this waste. Enter Better Earth Logistics, which provides a conduit to local businesses and residents by collecting and hauling their food waste to be composted. 

The business was born in 2015 to provide an extra service for Luke’s parents’ company, Better Earth Compost. “My dad was getting a lot of calls from people wanting their food waste picked up, and he didn’t have that service,” Luke explains. So he and Yvonne purchased a truck, and soon he was making pickups at local businesses, while she handled marketing and built their web presence. It’s proven to be a winning combination—for the Rosenbohms, for local businesses and for the planet.

A Mission Beyond Transport 
In early 2018, Better Earth Logistics got a boost from the Tazewell County Green Initiatives program and Peoria County Sustainability team, who wanted to help them expand their services to more people. The primary obstacle was the cost of containers, so both counties purchased roughly 100 containers for use by local businesses. And as Better Earth’s business has picked up, it’s clear the company is much more than a transport service. Read the rest of the article here.

Built for Music Lovers

Jason Miles and Sean Kenny outside of Kenny’s Westside Pub in downtown Peoria

Established as a neighborhood bar and restaurant on Farmington Road six years ago, Kenny’s Westside Pub has always hosted live music. But after relocating to downtown Peoria in 2016, a noticeable shift occurred. “We became a live music venue—not just a bar that has live music,” says owner Sean Kenny. “We’re hosting ticketed events with national acts, so people are traveling from the entire Midwest to see shows here.”

And Kenny has Jason Miles, his good friend and director of entertainment, to thank for this. Miles has been promoting music for 20 years—working with Jay Goldberg Events & Entertainment for the past five, and booking talent for some of the area’s biggest music festivals, including Summer Camp and the Peoria Blues & Heritage Music Festival. “Kenny’s was built for music lovers and that’s the clientele we want to cater to,” Miles affirms. 

Bringing Music To the Masses
In the early 2000s, the two worked together at Eamon Patrick’s Public House—which happened to be located where Kenny’s Westside is now. “I was a bartender and it was the best job I ever had,” Kenny recalls. “I loved the music and the whole vibe, and Jason was a young independent promoter… well, younger,” he smiles with a wink and a nod to Miles, who’s sitting beside him. The experience helped inspire the opening of his own establishment on Farmington Road, which they used to call a “mini-Eamon Patrick’s.” 

“Jason and I have the same brain when it comes to music,” he continues. “When you come to Kenny’s, you’re going to see a lot of bluegrass, funk, jazz, Americana—all original music. You’ll never see a cover band here.” Having staked out their niche, they generally steer away from popular genres like classic rock, country and EDM. “That stuff isn’t in our wheelhouse, and it’s not what our customers expect.” Read the rest of the article here.

The Sweet (& Tangy) Taste of Success

Lovingood Foods founders, Tony & Brenda Lovingood

For as long as she can remember, Brenda Lovingood has been making barbecue sauce for family and friends, slathering it on chicken wings, pork and meatballs. She had toyed with the idea of selling her homemade sauce for more than a decade, but life always got in the way. Both she and her husband Tony had full-time jobs and were busy raising their 11 children, while running a catering business on the side. “It always got put on the backburner,” Brenda recalls, “until one day I just decided I was going to do it.” 

That day finally arrived in 2016 after she attended the Women in Business Success Conference organized by Doris Symonds, who had been encouraging her to bottle her sauce for years. “It was like a one-stop shop,” Brenda says of the conference, where she gathered information about marketing and finances. “It was also the kick I needed to get going.” In addition, she and Tony met with Kevin Evans, director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Bradley University, who helped them strategize their objectives and establish the business. 

Converting the Masses
Lovingood Foods was formed in July of 2016, and within two years, the couple was selling cases of their barbecue sauce to local and regional stores including Hy-Vee, Alwan & Sons Meat Company, Save-A-Lot, and Haddad’s. “We literally walked into stores with a sample tray so they could taste the product,” Brenda says, and their hands-on tactic worked. They now drive to King’s Food Products in Belleville, Illinois—where the sauce is produced in large quantities—every three weeks to pick up cases for delivery. Read the rest of the article here.